Links December 3rd to December 8th

Links from my del.icio.us account for December 3rd through December 8th:



  • ICOS - Struggle For Kabul: The Taliban Advance - ICOS report: "The Taliban now holds a permanent presence in 72% of Afghanistan, up from 54% a year ago. Taliban forces have advanced from their southern heartlands, where they are now the de facto governing power in a number of towns and villages, to Afghanistan’s western and north-western provinces, as well as provinces north of Kabul. Within a year, the Taliban's permanent presence in the country has increased by a startling 18%. Three out of the four main highways into Kabul are now compromised by Taliban activity. The capital city has plummeted to minimum levels of control, with the Taliban and other criminal elements infiltrating the city at will."

  • Dar Al Hayat | The Mystery of Arab Impotence - Patrick Seale: "Egypt -- constrained by its peace treaty with Israel, enfeebled by its dependence on American aid, terrified of Muslim Brother activism, overwhelmed by internal problems and obsessed by the question of the succession to President Husni Mubarak's tired regime - seems wholly incapable of action to relieve the misery of Gaza, on its very borders. A generation ago, the troika of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria carried some weight in the world. Today, Egypt is - politically, at least - a shadow of its former self, while Saudi-Syrian relations are strained because of the Damascus-Tehran alliance."

  • Sudan's Leaders Brace for U.S. Shift - "In the Sudanese capital of Khartoum these days, political elites are bracing for what they expect will be a major shift in U.S. policy toward a government the United States has blamed for orchestrating a violent campaign against civilians in the western Darfur region. "Compared to the Republicans, the Democrats, I think they are hawks," said Ghazi Suleiman, a human rights lawyer and member of the Southern People's Liberation Movement, which has a fragile power-sharing agreement with the ruling party. "I know Obama's appointees. And I know their policy towards Sudan. Everybody here knows it. The policy is very aggressive and very harsh. I think we really will miss the judgments of George W. Bush."

  • Obama team's warring Middle East views - Ben Smith - Politico.com - Story tries to depics Kurtzer vs. Ross war at State over Israel. As if.

  • ELIZABETH WARNOCK FERNEA, 1927-2008 - Elizabeth Fernea, anthropologist who did ethnography of Iraqi an tribal village, passed away. I met her in Cairo around 2002.

  • Henry A. Kissinger - Barack Obama's Team of National Security Heavyweights - washingtonpost.com - Kissinger likes Obama's national security team, offers advice.

  • Qatar, an oil-rich gulf state has asked Kenya if it can lease land to grow food | Environment | guardian.co.uk - Another Gulf states plans a mega-farm in sub-Saharan Africa.


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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.