MB figures to be ambassadors?

Muslim Brotherhood figures seek Egypt diplomatic posts - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

The nomination of Ahmed Mekki, former vice president, to head Egypt’s diplomatic mission in the Vatican this week might be a precedent by which the president would use his legal prerogative to appoint selected non-career diplomats to head some of Egypt’s key diplomatic missions overseas.

The diplomatic corps law grants the president a maximum of 10 head of mission postings to be appointed from outside the diplomatic corps each time nominations requests for heads of missions are issued by the state.

According to sources at the presidency, the foreign ministry, and the Muslim Brotherhood, topping the list of aspiring ambassadors is leading figure of the Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, Essam El-Erian.

El-Erian is eyeing the head of Egypt’s mission in Ankara, a key capital for Egypt under Brotherhood rule. The tenure of current Ambassador to Turkey Abdel-Rahman Salah should come to an end this summer.

Other posts that the Brotherhood appear to be eyeing are also countries with “special rapport” with the Muslim Brotherhood. These include Qatar, to which Egypt sent an ambassador a year ago.

Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s ambassador to Doha (he shares the same name as the Egyptian president) sent a written complaint to the foreign ministry in Cairo complaining that he is “mostly uninformed about the ongoings" of bilateral relations between Egypt and Qatar.

The complaint was written following a recent visit to Cairo by Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Ben Jassim of which the Egyptian ambassador knew nothing.

Interesting report. Some will no doubt cry Brotherhoodization but it's normal in many countries for a president to appoint political allies as ambassadors. Except in those cases they tend to have quiet postings to charming seaside countries like the Bahamas. Not appointments to key allies where you need an experienced hand.

P.S. In the case of Essam al-Erian, it might simply be an attempt to get rid of him inside of Egypt.

Egypt's new foreign policy

I'm working on a piece on this topic, but today's Reuters' interview with Morsi acts as a kind of inauguration for the subtle but distinct foreign policy change taking place in Egypt. I would not start getting all alarmist about it (seem some recent WINEP pieces and other agitations of the Lobby), but it points to an attempt to project a more balanced approach to a domestic audience, not necessarily achieve that much in the short term. More on that later.

Do listen to the husky voice of Laila Fadel reporting on this in her new gig at NPR, featuring the baritone gravitas of Michael Hanna and more.

  

Qatar, the GCC, and the Arab Uprisings

The Arab League’s deadline for Syria to stop the “bloody repression” has passed, paving the way for stronger action after the League’s surprisingly hardline stance towards the Assad regime. Jenifer Fenton looks at what is motivating the GCC states, most notably the one taking the lead in the new regional diplomacy, Qatar. 

Qatar, with its progressive foreign policy, is publicly driving the Gulf’s response to Syria and carving out a role for itself as a country that can quickly adapt to the sweeping changes resulting from the Arab spring, but the regional weight it carries and its motives are more nuanced. 

The six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council  - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates - and the majority of Arab League member states agreed that there was a limit to the violence unleashed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad it could tolerate.  The United Nations puts the death toll since the unrest began at well over 3,500 people. Last week, the Arab League decided to suspend Syria’s participation and to impose political and economic sanctions against the Syrian government.  

Read More

US aid and diplomacy budget cut, except...

In the US, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are working on bills that would make deep cuts to the US foreign aid budget. These cuts will undermine the Obama administration’s policy of relying more on such aid as a completement to US power, reduce the ability to open consulates and finance international organizations, and make any idea of a “Marshall Plan” for the post-uprisings Arab world completely moot. But of course there is an exception:

The Republicans also attach conditions on aid to Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinians, suspending the latter entirely if the Palestinians succeed in winning recognition of statehood at the United Nations. However, one of the largest portions of foreign aid — more than $3 billion for Israel — is left untouched in both the House and Senate versions, showing that, even in times of austerity, some spending is inviolable.

Read More

Breaking the US-Egypt-Israel triangle

It may be time to reflect a little on US Middle East policy post-Arab Spring, and towards Egypt in particular. I've just taken part in a seminar where I presented a paper on the issue, and I'll be expanding some of my main points in the next few weeks here. The main gist of it, however, is that US policy in the region has not been a great success for the last 20 years of American hegemony, is seen as tremendously destructive by local populations, and that the US should refrain from trying to shape the outcome of the ongoing transformations the region is experiencing. It should first re-assess what its priorities are and take stocks of its limitations, particularly considering the current imperial overstretch and budgetary tightening.

Nor do I think Washington needs to interfere in the internal developments of individual countries, but rather reassess its strategic posture region-wide and try to create the multilateral mechanism to handle the crises that will no doubt come up as the transformations continue. For me, this means something modelled on the Concert of Europe, which would rely on regional powers to offer solutions and mediation. I'll say more on that later.

One of the major issues the US will have to contemplate is Egyptian-Israeli relations, and the ongoing collapse of the Camp David framework that created a trilateral relationship between Egypt, Israel, and the US. Washington should not resist this: it will only make situation more brittle, and instead show the flexibility to reimagine its role in a post-Camp David Middle East.

Read More

A new wall for Israel, in Cairo

First there was the West Bank wall, then the Gaza wall, then the Israeli-Egyptian wall in Sinai — and now the Egyptian government is building a wall outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo to protect it from protests. 

It may be a necessary thing — all countries have a responsibility to protect foreign missions in their territory. But, at a time of renewed indignation over the deaths of Egyptian border guards in the context of Turkey's downgrading of relations with Israel, it certainly sends a weird message.

There are those, notably in Israel, who will no doubt regret that it has come to this: Israeli diplomats being protected from an angry Egyptian population that is now as anti-Israeli as anytime since the two countries were at war. They should face the reality: this anger does just stem from the shootings, it also comes the fury at their own government's inaction (or connivence) over the Gaza war, the Lebanon war, the ever-expanding settlements in the last three decades.

Egypt, Iran, and the Islambulis

The news that Egypt has arrested the brother of Sadat's assassin as he arrived at Cairo Airport is interesting:

Mohamed Shawqi el-Islambuli, brother of Khalid el-Islambuli who killed former President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981, was sentenced to death in absentia in 1992 for plotting from abroad to overthrow the state.

He was sentenced again in 1999 in a landmark trial of more than 100 suspected members of the Gama'a al-Islamiya movement blamed for a massacre of tourists in the southern city of Luxor, an embassy bombing in Pakistan and a series of killings and assassination attempts including one against Sadat's successor Hosni Mubarak.

[. . .]

Islambuli returned after Iran's government told him he must leave the country and could travel either to Egypt or Pakistan. After failed attempts to enter Pakistan and Turkey, he boarded a plane to return to Egypt, said [his lawyer Nizar] Ghorab.

Aside from geopolitical differences, the biggest obstacle to the resumption of diplomatic relations between Egypt and Iran has been that Tehran has hosted Islambuli and named a street after his brother. The question here is why did Iran decide to kick out Islambuli, and why was he left no choice but to return to Egypt where his arrest was certain? Could this be a prelude to the resumption of diplomatic ties (which would be perfectly normal, Egypt is one of very few countries — Israel, the US — which do not have diplomatic relations with Iran)? And does Iran feel compelled to do something it failed to do for years not just because Mubarak is gone, but rather because the regional setup is changing so quickly, with Syria falling apart, Hamas perhaps on its way to deserting Damascus and Tehran and Hizbullah post-Assad perhaps being more Lebanon-centered?

Old Egypt's candidate for the Arab League

Mustafa al-FiqiWhen Amr Moussa announced that he would be stepping down as Secretary-General of the Arab League to run for the Egyptian presidency, several names surfaced as to who might replace him. Shockingly, Egypt was considering unsavoury Mubarak regime characters such as Moufid Shehab (a top NDP official and sometimes foreign affairs troubleshooter) to replace him. That was shelved, but only to have Mustafa al-Fiqi become the official Egyptian candidate. This should be an outrage.

Al-Fiqi is a former presidential aide who has for two decades played the role of foreign policy expert in parliament. He has been a go-to person for foreign delegations and held various positions related to this function, including on the National Council for Human Rights (even though he was a staunch supporter of the Emergency Law). He profusely praised Mubarak in the president's last days in February, and has now neatly realigned himself with the revolution.

Read More

Biggus Dickus

Oh, the joy of this reporter:

A high level Pakistani diplomat has been rejected as Ambassador of Saudi Arabia because his name, Akbar Zib, equates to "Biggest Dick" in Arabic. Saudi officials, apparently overwhelmed by the idea of the name, put their foot down and gave the idea of his being posted there, the kibosh.

Akbar Zib is no newcomer to politics, in fact you could say he's a pretty big deal. This long-ranging high level diplomat has worked with some of the largest members of world governments, players charged with negotiating the outcome of the world's current events.

Other GCC countries have refused [Ar] his credentials, too. Via Anonymous Arabist.

Links for Jan.05.10

akhbare-rooz (iranian political Bulletin) | List of organizations considered "subversive" by Iranian ministry of inteligence [in Farsi]. ✪ The Daily Star - The Gaza scorecard, one year later | Rami Khouri. ✪ Israel approves east Jerusalem building project | Yet another new settlement. ✪ Library of Congress on Islam in Early America « Anonymous Arabist وين الناس | Fascinating. ✪ Tweet freedom | On Twitter activism in Egypt, unfortunately confuses arabawy.org for arabist.net. ✪ Cairo's US Embassy is Worse by Far | Mamoun Fandy: "The embassy has become an embodiment of the meaning of disgracefulness in Cairo, in terms of people's behavior, rudeness, and impoliteness." ✪ gary's choices - The Decade's First Revolution? | Gary Sick on Iran. ✪ لا لحجب الإنترنت بالجزائر - Non à la censure de l'Internet en Algérie - No to Internet Censorship in Algeria Petition | Petition. ✪ Egyptian minister slams Al-Jazeera for 'instigating civil war' - Ynetnews | Over Gaza wall. ✪ Video: Gaza war: One year on, Palestinians struggle to rebuild life from the rubble | guardian.co.uk | ✪ CIA Bomber a Jihadi Blogger? — jihadica | Interesting background on Abu Dujana, as the bomber was allegedly known. ✪ Dear Metallica | Letter asking the metal band not to perform in Israel. ✪ Free Barghouti Now - Haaretz | OK. ✪ The Daily Nuisance | News From The Frontier | New online site from Israel/Palestine ✪ Three days in Iran - The Big Picture - Boston.com | Great pics of Iranian protests.
Read More

Links for 09.03.09 to 09.04.09

US citizen deported from Egypt - Yahoo! News | AP's Paul Schemm covers Travis Randall's unexplained deportation. This almost certainly has to do with his pro-Gaza activism, IMHO. ✪ Affaire TelQuel (Suite) + Affaire Al Jarida Al Oula (New) - Comme une bouteille jetée à la mer! | Get the censored issue of Moroccan mag TelQuel via Larbi. ✪ Update: American deported from Egypt, computer, mobile taken « Bikya Masr | Another airport security list victim, this time American. ✪ Robert Irwin’s “Dangerous Knowledge” « The Moor Next Door | A very detailed review by Kal. ✪ Brian Whitaker's blog: Dutch pull the plug on website | Menassat.com is shutting down as Dutch government pulls funding, possibly linked to its negative reporting on Israel. In the meantime the staff put up a final message, but the site is now down. Too bad. ✪ US embassy staff accused over 'Lord of the Flies' parties | In Afghanistan: "The dossier, compiled by the independent investigative group Project on Government Insight, includes an email allegedly from a guard currently serving in Kabul describing scenes in which guards and supervisors are "peeing on people, eating potato chips out of [buttock] cracks, vodka shots out of [buttock] cracks (there is video of that one), broken doors after drnken [sic] brawls, threats and intimidation from those leaders participating in this activity"."
Read More

Links for 07.21.09 to 07.22.09

جريدة الراية -مجرد سؤال .. ماذا تريد القاهرة من دارفور المنتدى | Qatari columnist complains "what does Egypt want from Darfur?", says Egypt is trying to start a separate track for negotiations even though Qatar's track working well. The Egyptians certainly hate seeing Qatar getting busy in their near-abroad. The List: The Middle East's Most Powerful Spooks | Foreign Policy | It's missing a few... will try to work on a complete list. Also not sure whether Assef Shakwat is still at the top of his game in Damascus. Facebook | Protest Facebook's categorisation of Israeli settlements as "Israel" | Tell Facebook to correct itself. From gods to garbage dwellers | GlobalPost | On Egypt's cats. Israeli funding angers filmmaker | "ENGLISH filmmaker Ken Loach has withdrawn his film Looking for Eric from the Melbourne International Film Festival because the festival receives funding from the Israeli Government."
Read More

Links for 07.13.09

Class action at 3arabawy | Hossam's latest article, covering a strike at a QIZ factory, highlights practice of forcing workers to sign a resignation letter when hired so they can easily be fired. Maybe Ahmadinejad just likes gallopinto | The Majlis makes a good point about the huffing and puffing made by Hillary Clinton over the fact that Iran is boosting its ties with Latin American countries. Maybe if Bush hadn't let the Monroe Doctrine slip, this would have not have happened. La mafia sicilienne, colombienne et russe s’offre les services d’El Qaida au Maghreb | Algerian newspaper claims AQIM working with Moroccan, Sicilian, Russian and Colombian mafias for drug trafficking. The Dark Sahara by Jeremy Keenan [PDF] | New book by Jeremy Keenan, leading investigator of Algerian govt. involvement in "Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb." Qashtamar Rules Everything Around Me (Q.R.E.A.M.) « THE BOURSA EXCHANGE | Very funny. Britain revokes five Israeli arms export licences - Yahoo! News | Out of 182, over Gaza war. Note here that the Perfidious Albion claims humanitarian concern, as if they don't continue to export arms to other unsavory types, or that this decision did not come out of domestic pressure rather than routine humanitarian review. Israel to keep only Hebrew names on road signs (AFP) | This reminds me of the Flemish-Waloon road sign wars of Belgium - except they had the good sense to keep the English: "AFP - The Israeli transport ministry said on Monday that it will get rid of Arabic and English names for cities and towns on road signs, keeping only the Hebrew terms."
Read More

NAF: The Middle East Comes To Town

From the New America Foundation, a conference on the Middle East peace process and the Obama administration's upcoming diplomacy: "The Middle East Task Force Directors Daniel Levy and Amjad Atallah will be joined by Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, and Rob Malley, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at the International Crisis Group, to walk us through expectations for the next two weeks."
Read More

Qadhafi never disappoints

gadhafi.JPG.jpeg
Saudi's King Abdullah walks out of opening session of Arab Summit:
"Doha: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz walked out of the opening session of the Arab Summit in Doha on Monday, following remarks made by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.  Tempers flared shortly after the summit host Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, ended his opening address, in which he said King Abdullah will represent the Arab nation at Thursday’s G20 economic summit in London. 'He is in fact the best representative any one could have,’ said Shaikh Hamad. The Arabs should be part of the restructuring of the global financial system, he said. ‘We should not sit on the sidelines watching.’ Following the speech, the Libyan leader took over the microphone without requesting a permission to speak, a Gulf News correspondent inside the meeting hall said. 'I don’t know why we should be happy that King Abdullah is representing us at the G20. He is a British-made monarch and an American agent,' Gaddafi said, and went on despite the repeated attempts by Shaikh Hamad to stop him. Frustrated over the attempts by the Emir of Qatar to stop his from talking, Gaddafi looked at the rest of the Arab leaders and said: 'I am the King of African Kings, I am the prince of the faithful and I don’t think my international prestige would allow me to sit with people like you.' The remark and the subsequent apology by the Emir of Qatar led to an angry walkout by King Abdullah, who few years earlier had a similar spat with Gaddafi. "
Bonus pics [Thanks Diana]:
2654_80767015357_536400357_2766361_3699018_n.jpg.jpeg
And to think once he was handsome:
ly04_04b.jpg.jpeg
Read More

Mubarak will not go to Doha Arab summit

News has just come out that Hosni Mubarak will not attend the upcoming Doha Arab League summit, suggesting that recent talks to repair the Arab rift during the Gaza war have not borne fruit. Qatar has not been open to rapprochement with Egypt from the start, and efforts to lure Syria away are not working to Egypt's satisfaction. One major victim of a failed Arab reconciliation could be the Palestinian reconciliation process. Update: Dina Ezzat suggests the Egypt-Qatar rift is about Sudan/Darfur as well as the Palestinians:
The summit, however, is unlikely to escape being the scene of squabbles over managing the reconciliation process between the Darfur leaders and Al-Bashir's regime. While Qatar is determined to pursue earlier efforts to conclude a comprehensive peace deal on that front other Arab countries -- especially Egypt -- are determined to deny Doha control over the issue. As a result the summit may not issue a resolution with clear language on the Darfur-Khartoum reconciliation process. The anticipated Egyptian-Qatari confrontation in Doha next week will not be confined to the management of the Darfur peace process. The diplomatic tug-of-war between the two countries that has continued for 12 months, especially over Palestinian reconciliation, is likely to cast a shadow across the Doha summit. With President Mubarak unlikely -- so far -- to attend, sending the foreign, or at best, prime minister, Qatar may not be so keen to avoid some squabbling over the text of resolutions to be adopted by the summit on the Palestinian issue. Sources say that Qatar has already suggested to several Arab countries that there is a need to break the "Egyptian monopoly" over Palestinian reconciliation. While this Qatari effort may not succeed -- as some Qatari officials acknowledge -- it would certainly impact on already tense Egyptian-Qatari relations.
Update II: AP has a write-up saying:
Hosni Mubarak's decision, which came two days before the summit starts, already throws major doubts on its chances for success as the organization's foreign ministers pleaded for unity in the face of threats against its members.
Read More

Links February 9th to February 11th

Links for February 9th through February 11th:

Read More

Links February 6th to February 7th

Automatically posted links for February 6th through February 7th:

Read More

Links January 20th and January 21st

Automatically posted links for January 20th through January 21st:

Read More

Del.icio.us links for November 19th

Automatically posted links for November 19th:
Read More