Links September 27th to September 29th

Links from my del.icio.us account for September 27th through September 29th:



  • Mai Yamani: The Arab world's cold war patron seems to be back | Comment is free - The ghost of Yevgeny Primakov is back to haunt us: "Today, US power in the Middle East is at its historical nadir, and Russia is seeking to fill the vacuum. Even America's closest allies – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel – are vulnerable as they face the aggressive expansion of "radical forces" represented by Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria, and the Iraqi resistance. In the prevailing atmosphere of turmoil and confusion, the radical Islamists attack the Americans as barbarous crusaders who have replaced the communists as the enemies of Islam. Indeed, for the conservative majority in the region, the US, with is pop culture and liberal democracy, is seen as a far more problematic ally than the autocratic and wealth-loving Russians."

  • The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب - Check out this Angry Arab post on how the Petra News Agency photoshopped pics of Queen Rania to make her more covered up.

  • Middle East Report 248: Waiting: The Politics of Time in Palestine - A new issue of MER focuses on Palestine

  • Al Jazeera English - Africa - Egypt tourist kidnappers shot dead - The plot thickens - are the hostages in Libya or Chad? Are the kidnappers Sudanese, Djiboutian, Chadian, Egyptian? Did the Sudanese army's raid, which killed six kidnappers, make further negotiations more difficult?

  • Terrorism: Firebomb attack on London book publisher | UK news | The Observer - "The London home of the publisher of a controversial new novel that gives a fictionalised account of the Prophet Muhammad's relationship with his child bride, Aisha, was firebombed yesterday, hours after police had warned the man that he could be a target for fanatics."

  • Armed robberies in Egypt's remotest desert - Yahoo! News - This is what happens when you're next door to a failed state: "CAIRO, Egypt - The abduction of a European tour group in a distant corner of Egypt's desert underlines the potential dangers of adventure tourism pushing deeper into remote destinations and getting closer to conflict zones.
    In the case of the 11 Europeans and eight Egyptians held since Sept. 19, the lawlessness in the desert plateau of Gilf al-Kebir may be a spillover from the violence in eastern Chad and Sudan's Darfur region, where armed bands are notorious for hijacking and robberies."

  • Egypt allows prisoners to order out restaurant food - Yahoo! News - Maybe they should just use otlob.com: "CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian prisoners are set to be allowed to order meals from any restaurant they choose after a trial run during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan was deemed a success, a senior security official said on Saturday." What this really is is yet another bonus for the well-off prisoners (usually kept together) who were mostly jailed for corruption and similar crimes. Ordinary prisoners will continue to live in atrocious conditions dependent on family visits for food. In other words, Egyptian economic segregation expands into prisons.


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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.