Links from my del.icio.us account for August 30th:
- Daily News Egypt - EGYPT BANS ‘EYE ON DEMOCRACY’ TAPING - Al Hurra show on democracy in Egypt banned by security before taping
- FT.com / World - Wealth weighs heavily on Gulf Arabs - Rich gulfies = fat bastards
- FT.com / World - Pegged to a money illusion - An argument for depegging GCC currencies to the dollar
- FT.com / World - Viewers fall for soap’s Turkish delight - Roula Khalaf on the Noor phenomenon
- L'Italie va indemniser la Libye pour la période coloniale - Europe - Le Monde.fr - Italy pays Lybia $5bn over 25 years in compensation for colonialism. Ask yourself: how much will big Italian energy firms like ENI will make from Lybian oil over the next 25 years?
- Letter from Rangoon: Drowning: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker - Don't miss this excellent piece on Burma by George Packer, which explores many of the dilemnas of what to do about dictatorship
- Military Sending Foreign Fighters to Home Nations - NYTimes.com - Program similar to rendition, except prisoners have ICRC access
Links from my del.icio.us account for August 29th through August 30th:
- Bearing Up - New York Times - McCain VP Sarah Palin's old NYT op-ed against making polar bears an endangered species
- Plan For Iraq - Internet archive cache of planforiraq.com, the Joe Biden-backed website that advocated the extreme federalization of Iraq
- Daily News Egypt - FOUR DECADES AFTER SAYYID QUTB’S EXECUTION - Ibrahim Hudaiby on the MB and Sayyid Qutb's legacy
- AFP: Egypt policeman seizes baby in hunt for fugitive - "An Egyptian police officer held an 18-month-old baby hostage for five hours in a bid to secure the surrender of the child's fugitive uncle, a security official said on Friday. Police have now opened an investigation into the incident which happened in a village in the Nile Delta on Tuesday, the official said. The uncle, who lived with the child and its mother, had absconded after being sentenced to a year in prison for forging a cheque."
- Jimmy Carter Conspicuously Absent From Podium - Forward.com" - "Breaking with the tradition of giving speech time to living former presidents, convention organizers honored Carter with only a short video clip highlighting his work with Hurricane Katrina victims and a brief walk across the Pepsi Center stage. The sidelining of Carter was driven by recognition in the Obama camp and among Democratic leaders that giving the former president a prominent convention spot might alienate Jewish voters."
- Salad Days | The National Salad days - The National Newspaper - Ursula Lindsey on Nadia Kamel's Salata Baladi
- Iraq and China Sign $3 Billion Oil Contract - washingtonpost.com - Well it seems at least China has confidence in the future of Iraq
- Daily News Egypt - A BLEAK VIEW FROM AN EGYPTIAN DYSTOPIA - Egyptian writer pens a dystopic vision of today
- Libya | Time for a new generation | Economist.com - On Seif's "retirement" from politics
For Egyptians, U.S. aid is mainly symbolic, forever linked to the Camp David peace agreements. But as assistance shrinks and conditionality rises, the attractiveness of the aid has dropped significantly. Some have argued, in fact, that it would be advisable to scrap the economic assistance altogether in the interest of smoother relations. Negotiations on such a "small" pot of money have been endless and contribute to bitter feelings on both sides. Moreover, the assistance provides Congress with numerous opportunities to condition what remains, putting additional stress on the relationship. So why does Egypt fight every year for the assistance? Why does the U.S. Department of State not argue that bilateral relations would be better without it? The answer: both are interested in maintaining a shield for Egypt's military assistance.[From The Future of U.S. Assistance to Egypt]
Many in Cairo and the Department of State worry that if the economic assistance shield is lost altogether, Congress, with the Obey-Lantos amendment precedent now set, will push more aggressively for conditionality on military assistance. For this reason, many are fighting to maintain it. This state of affairs, however, is unlikely to last into the next U.S. administration. No matter who wins the presidency, Egypt's critics in Congress will increase, and with it, Congressional ire, especially as Mubarak's regime has moved beyond Ibrahim to target the next generation of would-be activists. Blogger Abdel Karim Soliman, for instance, has been jailed for nearly two years for insulting the president and Islam. In July, fourteen young Facebook activists were arrested for "incitement against the regime," a day after flying Egyptian flags and singing patriotic songs to commemorate the 1952 revolution.
The Mubarak regime's resolute failure to live up to its human rights obligations will give ammunition to members of the next Congress eager to send a strong message to Cairo. As a result, future U.S. administrations will find it difficult, if not impossible, to justify economic assistance to Egypt, let alone to increase it. The White House, instead, will have to fight off multiple efforts to condition Egypt's military assistance. Waivers similar to those Rice announced this spring will increase, embarrassing both Egypt and a White House forced, however reluctantly, to stand with its "strategic partner."
Egypt could change all this. If a new leadership were to present a clear vision for the country's future -- one that Americans could understand and support -- Egypt would find willing supporters in both branches of the U.S. government. Unfortunately for Egyptians and bilateral relations, such leadership is not on the horizon. Conditioning military aid may, therefore, be the only avenue open to vent U.S. displeasure.
Links from my del.icio.us account for August 24th through August 27th:
- EXCLUSIVE-US tax breaks help Jewish settlers in West Bank | Reuters - Donations to settler groups are tax-exempt in US: "a review by Reuters of U.S. tax records found 13 tax-exempt organisations openly linked to settlements that have raised more than $35 million in the last five years alone."
- Jimmy Carter shunted to sidelines at Democratic Convention<br><br> - Haaretz - Israel News - Ex-Prez is a pariah - could it be something he said about Israel?
- Arab diplomacy | Moderate lament | Economist.com - A sympathetic review of Marwan Muasher's new book
- Strategic shift in North Africa militancy | csmonitor.com - Recent attacks in Algeria appear to use techniques learned in Iraq
- Can military strikes destroy Iran’s gas centrifuge program? Probably not. - ISIS: "An attack on Iran’s enrichment program could not just rely on a single strike. It would need multiple strikes against many sites. Destroying Natanz and Esfahan would require far more military ordinance than that used on either reactor attacked by Israel. After such strikes, the attacker might still have little confidence that it had denied Iran the ability to produce weapon-grade uranium. It might not even have confidence that its strikes set back its enrichment program by several years, a minimum criterion often used to judge whether military strikes are a success."
Pollack commits errors that, despite his years in the corridors of power and some 70 pages of footnotes, betray a lack of genuine intimacy with his subject. It is not true, as he asserts, that education in the Persian Gulf emirates is largely private. Nor is it true, any longer, that virtually the only foreign investment in Arab countries goes toward pumping more oil: real estate, tourism, banking, telecoms and even heavy industry now lure investors, too. It is an outdated generalization to state that “Arab bureaucracies . . . create interminable delays with customs regulations, inspections and other red tape.” Try telling that to Dubai Ports World, a company that runs 45 container terminals in 29 countries, or to the operators of the giant, state-of-the-art transshipment hubs in Egypt and Morocco that are set to dominate Mediterranean trade. It is even more misleading to assert that “the Arab regimes have implicitly or explicitly backed a range of terrorist groups.” Pray, which Arab governments does he mean, and which groups is he talking about? Pollack also shows a shaky grasp of history. We know that the Ottoman Empire declined and fell, but to have endured for five centuries, and for half those as the biggest state in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, does not make the Ottomans “unsuccessful.” Elsewhere he tells us sagely that “over time, the stagnation of the Arab economies has created considerable poverty,” as if there were no poor Arabs before, and as if one of the most startling modern examples of mass impoverishment was not the Clinton-era sanctions on Iraq, which destroyed its middle class and set the stage for postwar chaos. America gets off rather lightly in gen eral, in Pollack’s account, compared with the sad Arabs whom we must help to be like us. We are told, for instance, that the United States only grudgingly became involved in the grisly Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s when it nobly undertook to reflag oil tankers in order to protect the flow of oil. No mention here of Donald Rumsfeld’s back-slapping with Saddam Hussein or the supply of satellite intelligence to him or the exchange of American weapons to Iran for hostages — all of which helped prolong the slaughter. Pollack seems oddly unaware of history’s motivating forces. To assert that “what triggers revolutions, civil wars and other internal unrest is psychological factors, particularly feelings of extreme despair,” is plain silly. The Boston Tea Party could not have been prevented by Prozac. Similarly, he ascribes feelings to broad categories of Middle Easterners, devoid of any context or explanation. They are “angry populations” who suffer “inchoate frustration” and “a pathological hatred of the status quo.” We repeatedly hear of “Arab rage at Israel” and “Arab venom for Israel.” Nowhere is there a hint that such attitudes might bear some relation to the plight of the Palestinians, the agony of military defeat or the humiliation of life under Israeli occupation. In fact, the book’s most salient distortions stem from Pollack’s protectiveness toward Israel. He makes some absurdly cockeyed assertions, like, “America’s support for Israel over the years has even been a critical element in winning and securing Arab allies.” He offers misleading false alternatives, declaring, for instance, that there is “absolutely no reason to believe that ending American support for Israel would somehow eliminate” the risk of Islamist zealots taking power and cutting oil exports. How about making aid to Israel, and not just to Arabs, conditional, or aiming at mitigating, rather than eliminating, such risks? Pollack makes a peculiarly acrobatic effort to prove that hostility to Israel is not a prime motivating factor behind militant jihadism, repeating this assertion no fewer than four times in two paragraphs. Has he not bothered to listen to Osama bin Laden’s addresses to the American people, where he said that what converted him from dreamer to murderous activist was Israeli bombs falling on Beirut in 1982?Although I've only looked at this book briefly, from the little I saw it's a well deserved put-down of the man who, with "Threatening Storm," contributed significantly to the war-drums on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. Well-deserved. [From Book Review - 'A Path Out of the Desert,' by Kenneth M. Pollack - Review - NYTimes.com]
"What is currently taking place in southern Iraq," Gil Stein, the director of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, writes in the catalog to "Catastrophe!," the institute's disturbing new exhibition on the subject, "is nothing less than the eradication of the material record of the world's first urban, literate civilization."
The New York Review of Books has a long article on the looting and destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage.
They've announced the winner of the Saif Ghobash - Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, and: The 2008 Prize is to be awarded to Fady Joudah for his translation of Mahmoud Darwish's poetry collections in The Butterfly's Burden, published in a bilingual edition by Bloodaxe Books in the UK, and by Copper Canyon Press in the USA, the latter being short-listed earlier this year for PEN America’s poetry in translation award.
See the publicity pages for the bilingual (!) edition from Bloodaxe and Copper Canyon Press, or get your own copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. [From the Literary Saloon at the complete review - 11 - 20 August 2008 Archive]
Links from my del.icio.us account for August 17th through August 24th:
- A new regional order - Haaretz - Israel News - On how Egypt and Saudi are losing relevance to Turkey and others
- Middle East Analyst - A new strategic politics of the Middle East blog
- Egypt: Deadly journey through the desert | Amnesty International - "25 people have been shot and killed – 19 men, five women and a seven-year-old girl – trying to cross the Egyptian border into Israel since mid-2007"
- The Associated Press: Egypt parliament fire fuels scorn of government - Criticism over safety standards, scorn towards parliament
- Pamela Anderson's New Man! - Marc Malkin - E! Online - Pammy seeing Emirati sheikh?
- Islamists Today: Islamists and Uses of Democracy - Khalil al-Enani on democracy (or lack thereof) in Islamist parties
- Mauritania’s Coup: Domestic Complexities and International Dilemmas - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace - Chris Boucek of Carnegie on the recent coup
- Former Egyptian ambassador to Israel makes unprecedented public comments - Bassiouni says he was spy, can't stand Israelis, etc.
The Forward on Abdullah, the puppet-king of Jordan -- how many countries' leaders do you think are regularly spoken about in this manner?
[From The Shifting Ground - Forward.com"]
Even Jordan, one of the most pro-Western, anti-fundamentalist regimes in the Arab world, is testing the waters. Jordanian defense officials met with senior officials from Hamas over the past few weeks to talk security. The powwow was a direct breach of the strict quarantine around Hamas leaders declared by Washington. A year ago, Jordan’s young king would not have dreamed of wandering so far off the reservation. Right now, though, the Hashemite kingdom evidently sees which way the wind is blowing and does not want to be caught short.
[From Daily News Egypt - Imbaba, Egypt’s Most ‘Fertile’ Neighborhood, Says Report]
CAIRO: Imbaba, an elaborate squatter area in Giza, Egypt, records 23,000 newborn babies annually, compared to the least fertile upscale Zamalek area with its 235 yearly births.
According to a recently published report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAMPAS), Imbaba, which has a population of 1.1 million living on an area of 17,000 square km, contributes 1.1 percent to Egypt’s annual population rise.
Official statistics claim that Egypt’s population grows by 1.9 million every year, denoting a birth rate of 25.8 percent. The number is expected to go down to 1.2 in the next few years. The annual death rate of 6.3 percent (452,000 people) means that the overall natural population increase ra
Links from my del.icio.us account for August 17th:
- In Egypt, Some Women Say That Veils Increase Harassment - washingtonpost.com - Is the hijab a gateway garment - works well at first, then leaves you wanting more?
- Veils swapped for bikinis on Egypt's women-only beaches - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos - Egypt's religious schizophrenia illustrated - look out for the quotes at the end
- Palestinian poet and icon Mahmoud Darwish buried - Los Angeles Times - Palestinians lay poet to rest
- Hospital: Egyptian woman gives birth to septuplets - Interior Ministry to arrest her for heeding Mubarak warnings on overpopulation
- The Palestinian Che Guevara - The Spine - Marty Peretz: fundamentally nasty, nasty man
Links from my del.icio.us account for August 13th through August 17th:
- Egypt to compensate jailed Islamists: report - Middle East Times - Interior Ministry says, sorry for holding you for a decade without trial, here's some baksheesh
- » Egypt embarrasses itself again Middle East Strategy at Harvard - Michele Dunne on Saad Eddin Ibrahim, interesting discussion
- Source: Secret IDF material went unguarded in Georgia - Israel News, Ynetnews - Says most Israeli-trained Georgians have been killed in recent war
- MotherJones Blog: Michael Ledeen Leaves AEI - Rabid Iran-basher now at FDD, too "out there" for the other neo-cons
- Evan Bayh Served on Board with McCain, Kristol, Lieberman, Woolsey, and Scheunemann - The Washington Note - Obama VP potential has big Zio-credentials
- How George Clooney offers his 'good friend' Barack advice on Iraq | Mail Online - 'Pro-Palestinian' George Clooney giving Obama Middle East advice (and he even looks like Khaled Meshaal)
- Getting into the picture - Haaretz - Israel News - Comic book culture finally making it to Israel, apparently
Links from my del.icio.us account for August 11th through August 12th:
- IkhwanWeb - Editorial: Muslim Brotherhood Hits the Obama Campaign Trail - MB speaks out on allegedly MB-linked Muslim advisor to Obama, denies links
- عار التحرش الجنسي في مصر- المصرى اليوم - Mona Tahawy on sexual harassment
- CPJ News Alert 2008 - EGYPT: Still no word, five years after editor disappeared - Still no info on what happened to Reda Hilal
- Hustlers evicted from pyramids - Telegraph - I was told last night that at the press conference a tourist was carving into the pyramids just behind Hawass
- Palestinian negotiator considers binational state - Yahoo! News - Ahmed Qurei airs out threat of one-state solution
BAGHDAD (AP) _ Several hundred Iraqi refugees flew home from Egypt on Monday on the Iraqi prime minister's plane, the first government-organized flight aimed at accelerating the return of Iraqis now that violence has waned. Many of those returning on the free flight, however, said they had come back only because they were broke after years of living outside Iraq and still feared the dangers in their homeland. "If I had more money, I would have stayed and never gone back," Abu Hussein, a 32-year-old Shiite merchant, said waiting to board at Cairo's airport. "We hear from other returnees that they had regret going back because there is still bombing, kidnapping and killing." The International Organization of Migration says some 13,000 Iraqis have returned from nations in the region — a tiny proportion of the estimated 2.5 million who fled Iraq's turmoil after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Nearly 3 million more Iraqis have been displaced inside the country, the Switzerland-based humanitarian group says.[From Iraqi prime minister gives refugees free flight home from Egypt, seeking to speed up return -- Newsday.com]