Links September 23rd to September 25th

Links from my del.icio.us account for September 23rd through September 25th:



  • The trust problem - Paul Krugman - Op-Ed Columnist - New York Times Blog - "The whole premise of the bailout push has been “We’re the grownups, we know what we’re doing, just trust us.” Sorry, but that’s how Colin Powell sold the Iraq war. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice … you shouldn’t get fooled."

  • Edward Luttwark in the TLS: Without Sentiment - You probably won't find it online, but this week's Times Literary Supplement has a rather strange article review of Lawrence Freedman's "A Choice of Enemies", in which he spends half the article ridiculing that oil and Israel had anything to do with the invasion of Iraq, but then never really says why or presents an alternative explanation (although he keeps saying that he will.) The closest he gets to it is this:
    "Hardest to accept is precisely the motive that seemed most powerful to this observer, who has known the protagonists for a very long time: the desire to fight Islamic extremism and terrorism by bringing democracy to the Arabs, through the example of a democratic and prosperous Iraq engendered by eliminating the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein." A truly bizarre point of view, since after all many of these protagonists have been around for a long time and were never known before as die-hard democratizers.

  • What's the Point of a Finance Ministry? Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) - "The Syrian Minister of Finance, Doctor Mohammed al Hussein, wrote an article for the Syrian Al Thawra Newspaper entitled, ‘Syria: The Country Least Affected by the Financial Crisis…The Reasons Lie in its own Capitalism,’ in order to reassure citizens and investors that Syria is the state least affected by the financial crisis and if only he didn’t write!
    ...
    What the finance minister is trying to say, in simple terms, is that Syria has been saved from this international financial crisis because his country has no financial market and because of the regression of banks and financial institutions in Syria, as well as the lack of foreign investments. Any Arab investments are merely grants or accompanied by political motives."

  • Fears grow in Lebanon as 10,000 Syrian troops arrive on the border - Times Online - "The Lebanese media report that between 8,000 and 10,000 Syrian special forces have taken up positions along some of the hills overlooking the Kabir.
    Their surprise deployment comes after several months of clashes in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, pitting the majority Sunnis against the minority Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam."

  • CPJ News Alert | TUNISIA: Recently freed journalist is abducted, threatened - "Boukhdhir, who spent eight months in prison for writing articles critical of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, told CPJ that he was abducted Saturday evening as he was heading to an Internet café in Sfax, Tunisia’s second-largest city. He said he was forced into a small French-made car and taken first to a police station near the city’s old district and then to an isolated area about nine miles (15 kilometers) west of Sfax. There, he said, his captors threatened him before forcing him from the car.
    Boukhdhir, noting that he was taken initially to a police station, said he believes his captors were plainclothes state security agents."


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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.