- The Long Shadow of 9/11
Rob Malley and Jon Finer on US counter-terrorism policy
- Malley and Finer’s Foreign Affairs Article “The Long Shadow of 9/11,” Annotated
by Alex Thurston of the Sahel Blog
- Who gets to tell Iraq’s history?
Avi Asher-Shapiro on the NYT ISIS document affair.
- The Brief, Particular Cruelty of Morocco’s Own Goal
- La politique du feuilleton (1/2) : l’Égypte et sa police
There were six series praising the police on Egyptian TV this Ramadan.
- Libyan army arrests former bin Laden driver Abu Sufian bin Qumu in Derna
I really wonder why he is considered one of the most important people in Al Qaeda if he was just OBL's driver.
- The outrageous racism that 'graced' Arab TV screens in Ramadan
Ramadan series think blackface is funny.
- The Mask It Wears
Pankaj Mishra on liberal internationalism.
- Mohamed Salah and the power to inspire dreams | Mada Masr
- Maghreb: Dream of Unity, Reality of Divisions
- The Real Reason the Middle East Hates NGOs
- Scotland-sized 'dead zone' discovered in Gulf of Oman
- Morocco’s Religious Diplomacy: To What End?
- Is Morocco’s boycott the future of political resistance in north Africa? | MEE
- Top US official eyes Israel's Egypt border for Trump wall ideas
- Who Is Behind Trump’s Links to Arab Princes? A Billionaire Friend | NYT
David D. Kirkpatrick
- Moscow’s Maghreb Moment
Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck and Vasily Kuznetsov
- Islam’s New ‘Native Informants’
Nesrine Malek on Ali, Nawaz, etc.
- Newspaper Pledges to Return ISIS Documents to Iraq
@ursulind in @AlFanarMedia on the resolution (seemingly) of the NYTimes' removal of ISIS files from Iraq
- What Happens in the Gulf Doesn’t Stay in the Gulf
Rob Malley on how Qatar-UAE rivalry is destabilizing Somalia
- Saudi Arabia Suffers Shock Collapse In Inward Investment - Forbes
Funny how that happens when you arrest and blackmail your businessmen.
- Sisi's 'final' term? | Mada Masr
Must-read for Egypt-watchers on constitutional amendments
- Innocence Abroad
@ursulind on what American can learn abroad, and the writing of Henry James, Suzy Hansen, James Baldwin & Omar El Akkad
- Jordan struggles for survival strategy in shadow of US-Israeli-Saudi axis | Middle East Eye
Sean Yom manages to make Jordan sound exciting.
- Climate change is making the Arab world more miserable
- Jordan's king freezes price hikes after days of protests
- Cambridge Analytica’s Parent Company Helped Shape Saudi Arabia’s Reform Movement
This is fascinating.
- Misery as Strategy: The Human Cost of Conflict
ICG's Caroline Flintoft
- Q&A – Tunisia in Transition: A Comparative View from Thomas Carothers
- Why Egypt Is at the Forefront of Hepatitis C Treatment
- Tunisia and the International Community since 2011: Rentierism, Patronage and Moral Hazard | Jadaliyya
- The Life Span of Alternative Media: Cases of Lakome and Mamfakinch in Morocco | Jadaliyya
- Kuwait's careful balancing act with Iran, Saudi Arabia
A primer by Hamad Albloshi
- A Century of Arab Art, Compressed Into a Book: @ursulind's review in @alfanar of a new and fascinating entry in @MuseumModernArt Primary Documents series
- Recognizing Annexation: Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem
Joel Beinin for MERIP
- The arrest of an Egyptian satirist shines a light on the government's system of intimidation
- After dumping the nuclear deal, Trump has no strategy for Iran
Very good piece by Suzanne Maloney esp. on the inflated expectations of the JCPOA.
- The Brazen Bootlegging of a Multibillion-Dollar Sports Network
Great story by Tariq Panja.
- Egypt: The use of indefinite solitary confinement against prisoners amounts to torture | Amnesty International
I have an essay in The Point magazine -- a Chicago-based magazine on culture and politics -- that I spent many months working on. It is about Americans abroad, the damage we do, the innocence we claim, the stories we tell -- and also, perhaps, the responsibility and solidarity we could take on. It's about Suzy Hansen's journalist memoir "Notes on a Foreign Country," -- and about Henry James, James Baldwin, and Omar El Akkad among others. And it has more auto-biography than I usually include in any of my writing.
I generally agreed with Hansen's critique of American imperialism, and I found the book thought-provoking. But I also found her framing and her tone off-putting, because of how self-centered it is and above all of how utterly humorless. Here is an excerpt:
Hansen argues that her lack of awareness about America’s role in the world was structural, intentional—an ignorance that many Americans, particularly white Americans, wear like mental armor, allowing them to believe, against all evidence, that our political and military interventions abroad are always necessary, successful and well-intentioned. “I would never have admitted it, or thought to say it,” Hansen explains, “but looking back, I know that deep in my consciousness I thought that America was at the end of some evolutionary spectrum of civilization, and everyone else was trying to catch up.” Hence, she assumed that in Istanbul, she would assess how well Turkey was meeting certain U.S. standards (“democratization,” “modernization”); she would also think about “solutions” to Islam, because “that’s what Americans always do.”
Hansen occasionally mentions The Fire Next Time (1963), in which Baldwin describes the willful, violent blindness of white Americans, and their determination not to face “reality—the fact that life is tragic.” Baldwin himself left America for France and Turkey because he found life there false and unbearable, a physical and psychological assault. At least African Americans, he wrote, possess “the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace.” Hansen read this passage long before moving to Turkey, but one of her points is how often we can know something but not really accept it. She writes: “Even when I disagreed with America’s policies, I always believed in our inherent goodness, in my own.”
From Istanbul, Hansen traveled to report from Greece, Egypt and Afghanistan, only to discover from wry, patient locals that the crisis each country is currently undergoing can be explained by a history in which U.S. intervention figures prominently. In Afghanistan, she attends a Fourth of July party at the American embassy. There is a billboard outside the embassy that reads: “the u.s. embassy would be grateful if any of our friends who have information on terrorist activity or threats to please come to this gate.” There is a five-by-seven-foot American flag made out of cupcakes. The red, white and blue balloons keep popping from the heat, setting the crowd of Afghans and Americans, fearful of snipers, on edge. General David Petraeus and the U.S. ambassador dodge difficult questions from Afghan guests and deliver platitudes.
This is all very well observed. A different sort of writer would have made something barbed and darkly funny of this scene. Hansen seems headed in that direction, but instead she stops, on cue, to wring her hands: “Those bland, company-man words. In Kabul these words sounded criminal. These were loveless, soulless words. How could we speak to Afghans like this? … No one believed in the words they were saying, and yet this language was about real things: flesh and death and war, people’s homelands, and their children.”
It strikes me as a luxury and nearly an affront to be as sentimental and naïve as this. It’s not that we shouldn’t sympathize with Afghans and others—it’s that such an expression of sympathy, in which one’s own guilt and shock takes center stage, isn’t worth much. Meanwhile, many of the people I’ve met out in the world who are really up against it—who by circumstance or choice live terribly exposed—wear the risks they run matter-of-factly, the bearers of what Baldwin calls an “ironic tenacity.” They are knowing, daring, uncomplaining. I guarantee you they waste no time being shocked by the platitudes of U.S. ambassadors.
Hansen notes that when Albert Camus visited New York in 1946, he wrote in his journal that America was a “country where everything is done to prove that life isn’t tragic.” Camus held that “one must reject the tragic after having looked at it, not before.” Hansen does the looking but not the rejecting. She remains transfixed by the tragic and her own response to it, casting pretty standard culture shock as emotional catastrophe. Her Turkish lessons are “soul-shattering.” In Cairo, she is “lonely and clumsy, wreaking havoc on things I knew nothing about.” In Afghanistan, “it was my mere existence, I felt, that did damage enough. I wanted nothing else but to withdraw myself.”
When I read this, a phrase of another writer immediately came to mind. “I hate tragedy,” wrote Waguih Ghali, a penniless alcoholic and suicidal Egyptian who, in self-imposed exile after Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in 1956, wrote one of my favorite novels. Beer in the Snooker Club contains passages that still make me laugh out loud. Egypt, the Arab country I lived in for many years, has one of the best and darkest strains of humor I’ve ever encountered. It does not come natural to me but I have often witnessed its gift, the way it can lift the pall of fear and death. It’s the laughter of survivors, balanced right on the edge of hope and hopelessness.
And check out the rest of The Point, there are many great pieces of writing there.
I just received a copy of No Exit, Yoav Di-Capua's new book on Sartre and Arab intellectuals (it is essentially an intellectual history of the post-colonial Arab world) and its cover is very, very cool. I very much enjoyed Di-Capua's last book, Gatekeepers of the Arab Past, a great historiography and was happy to meet him in Austin (where he teaches at the University of Texas) on the sidelines of South By Southwest a few years ago. It'll be some more rigorous reading than I'm doing now (I've been devouring Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem sci-fi series, see great reviews here and here) but looking forward to it.
Also recently received are two books on Morocco (and Jordan) – it's relatively rare that you get serious and in-depth English-language scholarship on Morocco, so good to see that – and a collected volume edited by Alfred Stepan including many A-listers and friends (Rached Ghannouchi, Carrie Wickham, Nathan Brown, Monica Marks, Radwan Masmoudi, etc.) that looks at the Egypt vs. Tunisia question post-Arab Spring. With chapter titles like "The roots of Egypt's constitutional catastrophe", it's pure Arabist geek-bait.
As I have written previously, everything points towards Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi seeking to amend the 2014 constitution to remove term limits, enabling him to remain in the presidency for the rest of his days. The 2014 constitution was written at a moment when Sisi's ascendancy was less than certain; it contains not only limits on presidential terms (the sole major democratic gain of the last decade, arguably) but also constraints on the president's relationship with other major institutions, including the legislative and judiciary, and most importantly the army (since the defense minister, by some readings, cannot be removed for eight years – after the president steps down).
The signs that Sisi would seek amendments have been in the air for a while; even before the recent farcical re-election (the Siselection) there were trial balloons in parliament for initiating a change to the constitution either to extend the term length or remove limits. Whether this will fly is a matter of great uncertainty: Sisi has support among a powerful strata of the establishment, some popular backing, a relentless media machine and, for now, foreign backing. On the other hand, there were also signs (including prior to the recent election) of unease within elements of the Egyptian elite, including the military. And some of Egypt's Western allies, at least, might not object to see him being replaced by a less repressive general who could guarantee their interests while worrying them less about long-term sustainability of the all-repressive, all-the-time Sisi approach.
Hence, securing his presidency for life is no done deal for Sisi. We are just beginning to see regime media stalwarts begin to articulate more sophisticated versions of why it might be necessary to have Sisi remain (by more sophisticated, I mean not just based on emotional paeans of loyalty and Sisicophancy). A few days ago, many noted the piece below by Yasser Rizk – veteran political writer, editor of the venerable al-Akhbar state newspaper (with an interlude at al-Masri al-Youm after he was sacked by Morsi in 2012), and one of the most strident opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood – arguing for the removal of term limits. Rizk was also revealed as Sisi's confidante in leaked tapes in 2013, in which the then minister of defense is heard giving instructions on what talking points should be circulated among intellectuals as he prepared his bid for the presidency.
The pretext given? That Egypt's political scene – repressed to unprecedented degrees under Sisi – has not produce viable alternative leadership. That is, as they say, pretty weak sauce especially considering the fact that several serious presidential contenders were sidelined prior to the election. It seems the pro-Sisi chattering classes have now been given their new talking points – expect this to be repeated ad nauseum over the next few months.
Our In Translation feature is made possible through support from Industry Arabic, the nec plus ultra of Arabic translation services. Check out their cool Ramadan Fawazeer feature this month, and give them a gander for your translation needs.
Anxiety over the future government, and the risk to the June Revolution
Yasser Rizq, al-Akhbar, 12 May 2018
There is an undeniable anxiety about the future governance of our country, even though President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has not yet taken the oath of office for his second term as president, which is scheduled to begin at the start of next month.
There is also a tangible sense that the June Revolution and its gains are under threat, as we approach its fifth anniversary, which falls next month.
The anxiety is legitimate, and the danger is real!
The source of the anxiety is the lack of political forces or party blocs able to produce candidates qualified to assume leading responsibility – forces that enjoy both the support of the people and the endorsement of core and constitutional state institutions.
In one year, you can split the Suez Canal; in four, you can erect a million residential units; in eight, you can build a capital, and in fourteen, a new city.
And yet, you cannot decide to build a political class in the same manner. Nor can you shorten the period of political maturation through directives. Nor can you select leaders on a hunch without a national yardstick, political testing, or executive responsibility.
The source of anxiety is that three years from now is an insufficient amount of time for qualified, visionary political figures to emerge that are youthful and able to assume the functions of the head of state in a manner commensurate with Egypt’s importance and position.
It seems, then, that the political arena for the foreseeable future is dry and barren. While the constitution sets the number of years for a presidential term at four years and bans the president from running for more than two terms, it also prohibits him from returning to the presidency later, even if another president occupies the office for one or two consecutive terms in the interim. This sort of “Putin-Medvedev” scenario is unable to repeat itself in Egypt according to the provisions of the 2014 Constitution, which we say, wholeheartedly, was drafted with the best intentions!
In regards to the constitution, there have been many opinions and suggestions regarding how to amend more than one of its sections. These proposals should be discussed in the media and parliament without the least delay.
The danger to the June Revolution actually lies in two distinct camps:
- The first thinks that the time has come to return to the pre–25 January regime, with all of its deadlock, sterile opinions, and corruption.
- The second imagines that it can circumvent the 30 June Revolution, take aim at its gains and conspire to stay in power under the cover of reconciliation, either in phases, or all at once by 2022.
The danger lies in Gamal Mubarak’s cronies, who are being reintroduced politically and in the media after washing their faces and hands of what they did to the people and country.
It is also lies with Muslim Brotherhood members, who say that their hands are clean of blood, while at the same time their operatives once again penetrate the ranks of the state and its institutions.1
Perhaps we have not yet forgotten the deal made between the two sides in 2005 that granted the Brotherhood 88 seats in the People’s Assembly in exchange for their support in grooming Gamal Mubarak as his father’s successor. Perhaps we have also not forgotten when the Brotherhood aspired for more and the NDP’s Policy Secretariat imagined that it could take seats from the opposition and the Brotherhood in the 2010 People’s Assembly election “free and clear.” This was the straw that broke the Mubarak regime’s back on 25 January and afterwards.
For all we know, perhaps there is someone engineering another deal for 2022, beginning in turn with the next syndical, local, parliamentary, and finally presidential elections. This would result in the Brotherhood filling up the government and Parliament and Gamal Mubarak as the president.
I do not think it a mere innocent coincidence that this image of condolence is being promoted at the same time as the idea of reconciliation between the regime and the Brotherhood.
In spite of the actual circumstances surrounding the event, the image of Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi shaking hands with the brothers Gamal and Alaa Mubarak has already been exploited on Brotherhood websites and Mubarak-friendly social media accounts in order to make it seem as if Field Marshal Tantawi was expressing his apologies for what Gamal Mubarak and his father suffered after the 25 January Revolution during the period that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ (SCAF) governed the country. This, of course, is ironic considering its shameful falsehood.
At the same time, talk of reconciliation has been in in the air at various levels, some of which are directly attributable to the Brotherhood organization, although we have not yet heard a definite, formal response that any dialogue or reconciliation has been denied or ruled out. Perhaps those talks will not be interrupted, but rather renewed and activated instead, especially since the final rulings over several members of the Brotherhood’s leadership (some of whom face execution) have been postponed. This is stoking doubts in public opinion, as well as renewing hopes within the Brotherhood’s ranks that the idea of reconciliation could be pushed through as a springboard for their delusions of returning to power.
Some may say that Gamal Mubarak, like his father and brother, was sentenced to prison in the presidential palaces case, which precludes him from running for any position or from participating in political life until he has been exonerated.
However, it is worth recalling that in a similar situation, when Khairat al-Shater2 wanted an exoneration shortly before the filing deadline to run in the 2012 elections, the doors of the court opened on a Friday and issued him a detailed acquittal. Sometimes the country and its ledgers are really their country and ledgers!
However, the greatest danger comes from those who gravely underestimate their opponents and overestimate their delusions of their own abilities, thereby leading people into danger and peril, such as we saw shortly before the 25 January Revolution, or shortly before the Brotherhood exploited its control of the parliament and the presidency.
The greatest danger consists of a political elite that has the memory of a fish, an intellectual elite that revolves around the movement of history like a beast of burden going around a waterwheel, and a media elite that thinks with its tongue and talks with its nerves.
They are the ones who turn illusion into fact and delusion into reality.
This fact must be made loud and clear to everyone: there is no one to make reconciliation with, and there is nothing on which we have to reconcile.
It is also necessary to enact a law that whoever calls for or applauds reconciliation with the terrorist Brotherhood organization should face the same punishment as the one prescribed for those who are actually guilty of belonging to the organization.
Everyone must be aware that even the National Democratic Party in the heyday of the Policy Secretariat3 was not able to gather more than 5% in any elections during its era. And its remnants have not been any better at mobilizing the masses and getting them to go to the polls in any election following the 30 June Revolution. Rather, during the last presidential elections in particular, there was no one – whether the parliamentary blocs, family heads, or tribal strongholds – who could claim that they were behind the large crowds that gathered to vote in the elections. Rather, it was the person of President al-Sisi and the success and hope that he represents to the voters that motivated citizens to gather in front of the polling centers in such massive numbers.
I think that maybe Gamal Mubarak needs someone to whisper a bit of advice in his ear. That person should tell him to raise his hands in praise and thanksgiving that he was not tried politically for what he did to ruin the country and for his attempt to overthrow the republican system, and that he should remain in his home and not make any media appearances feigning ignorance of his father’s reign.
In my view, the popular reaction to talk of reconciliation and those who are giving it legs – whether out of carelessness or bad intentions – should be the nail in the coffin for these proposals, whose real aim is to launch a counter-revolution against the 30 June Revolution and its regime.
I also consider the mass outcry to the image of condolence between Field Marshal Tantawi and Gamal Mubarak to be the appropriate response to the succession era, articulated by the patriot Tantawi himself. The people have not forgotten his position towards the Gamal Mubarak loyalists during the Nazif government, especially when he said to them, “You all want to sell the country and the military establishment will not allow it.”
As for the anxiety for the future shape of the government at the end of the president’s second term, I am convinced that President al-Sisi shares this feeling as much as public opinion does, if not more.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that when I asked President al-Sisi about this feeling, he replied, “I am beset by anxiety even now. No one’s life is guaranteed from one minute to the next. All lives are in God’s hands.” I also heard the president say that one of the most important priorities of his new presidency is to train and select several capable people to run in the next elections.
The parliament and its delegates remain an essential part of the constitutional debate. On the one hand, no one wants to insert absolute rule into the constitution. However, at the same time, no one believes that its provisions should act as a sort of guillotine enforcing the popular will.
The people’s awareness remains a solid shield to defend them against the dangers of the counter-revolution, assaults upon the gains of the 30 June Revolution, and the lies and claims broadcast about its national regime.
And behind the people, the military stands alert, protecting the 30 June Revolution, and defending the people’s will against efforts to return to Egypt’s former corruption, exclusion, and monopolization of power.
This is a reference to calls by some exiled members of the Brotherhood for reconciliation and their distancing with the group’s leadership, as well as similar calls from former members in Egypt. ↩
Former Deputy General Guide and strongman of the Brotherhood, now in prison ↩
The Policy Secretariat was a kind of internal think tank in the former ruling party led and created by Gamal Mubarak. ↩
Our partners at Industry Arabic are rolling out a daily translation of classic Ramadan TV riddles throughout the holy month:
But there was another form of Ramadan programming that somehow managed to combine all these themes in one surreal mix: the fawazeer (فوازير). In essence, the fawazeer programs were a short 10-minute variety show containing dance numbers and sketches that present an affectionate pastiche of Egyptian popular culture of the pre-satellite TV era. The core of each fawazeer episode revolved around a riddle that the audience was asked to solve, usually anchored to a specific theme for the entire 30-episode season.
Although the tradition of fawazeer stretches back to the 1950s and continues even to this day through occasional efforts at revival, the peak of the fawazeer programming is widely considered to be the series presented by Nelly and then Sherihan in the 1980s and 1990s. Above all in Egypt, but also in other parts of the Arab world, they form part of the childhood nostalgia of the generation that would grow up to lead the Arab Spring.
Industry Arabic is celebrating this Ramadan by translating the full collection of riddles from the 1981 season starring Nelly, titled “al-Khatba” (الخاطبة). Considered one of the best seasons of the fawazeer, this series presents Nelly in the role of the professional matchmaker. In each episode, Nelly proposes a new potential suitor to an aspiring bride and her family in the form of a riddle describing his profession.
My Crisis Group colleague Michael Ayari and I have penned an op-ed for Le Monde, published yesterday, analyzing the outcome of the local elections that took place on Sunday 6 May. It's in French, so let me address key points we made here:
- The local elections are important as part of the democratic transformation the country is haltingly going through – postponed four times, they are a key component of the constitutional process set in motion in 2014 and will return the first democratically elected local officials since the 2011 uprising, hopefully reinforcing the legitimacy of local government.
- However they are also important politically. Tunisia is entering an 18-month cycle of electoral activity, starting with these local polls and ending with parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019. These will no doubt test the alliance between Nida Tounes and Nahda that has stabilized the country through a broad consensus, but in part because it is too broad, deprived the governing coalition of vitality and direction at times.
- Early results (official ones should be out tonight) suggest low turnout – no surprise considering how disaffected many Tunisians are with politicians, another consequence of the "mushy consensus" (to borrow from the French expression consensus mou) – and decent results for Nahda and independents, while coalition partner Nida Tounes, the party of President Beji Said Essebsi, drops.
- These elections thus emphasize the Achilles' heel of the current governing coalition: Nida Tounes' weakness and gradual disintegration, as it is not capable of organizing all political forces belonging to the "Destourian" current (nationalist/secular, ranging from genuine democrats to former regime holdvers). Other political forces have failed to break through either.
- If Nida Tounes goes into the 2019 election cycle in disarray, it will face tremendous difficulty in coalescing around a parliamentary electoral strategy and a presidential candidate. Nahda however remains disciplined and capable of uniting, and as a result has paradoxically become key to Nida Tounes' internal stability (as its coordination in these elections have shown). But it cannot make up for the party's internal divides.
- This points to the looming problem facing Tunisia politically: the coalition between Nida Tounes is perceived as unnatural by many (especially among Nida Tounes supporters) and while Nahda has made many concessions it is not really a junior partner, as was originally intended by Essebsi. The regional polarisation over political Islam (Qatar crisis, etc.) makes maintaining the consensus more difficult.
- The success that independents have had – many of them former RCD (Ben Ali's party before 2011) members – suggest a reconfiguration of the political landscape under way on the secular side. Some may seek negotiation with Nida Tounes, but will demand greater control of the party and feed into the parliamentary candidate selection process. Others may decide to form a rival bloc to it, perhaps on an anti-consensus platform. (Former RCD members are split on Nahda: many have been courted quite effectively by the Islamist party, share its general conservatism and have received its help in these elections. Others are die-hard anti-Islamists, closer to the Arab nationalist left.)
- One key lesson of this election is that the disaffection with the consensus politics in place since 2014 must be look at seriously. Key grievances, aside corruption, include the lack of any fundamental change the country is run, especially its regional inequalities and access to economic opportunity. The current consensus, to be maintained (which is desirable to avoid a lapse into the polarisation seen elsewhere), needs to take that on. Otherwise new political forces may campaign against the mixed record of the governing coalition in 2019, including against the principle of compromise and democratic progress.
An avalanche of work and a hectic travel schedule in recent weeks prevented from updating the blog. Among the things that fell by the wayside was this important piece in al-Araby that sheds light on the communications strategy of the Sisi regime, in the context of growing anxiety in Egypt and abroad about its direction and of course the recent "Sisilection" that was a PR fiasco for the regime. The last few months have seen increased activity against the media by regime stalwarts, most notably the expulsion of London Times correspondent Bel Trew, the controversy over the New York Times' stories about security influence over television figures, and the debacle over the BBC's report on the human rights catastrophe that has taken place under Sisi.
It's a little less newsy now that the election has come and gone, but this story shows once again that, for all appearances of not caring about what outsiders say, the Sisi regime is deeply sensitive to bad press and intent on countering it. For all of Egypt's post-coup rehabilitation and the frequently warm welcome Sisi has received in Paris, Berlin, Washington or elsewhere, one is struck that even among Egypt's staunchest backers in the West (and even some in the Gulf) concern about the country's trajectory is frequently expressed. It's not so much the human rights situation -- at the end of the day, no one really cares that much about that beyond the PR issues associated with it -- but that the management of the election and the clear signs of popular and military dissent that the Ahmed Shafiq and especially Sami Anan suggested (as well the way they were handled) betrayed the regime's incompetence and a degree of uncertainty over Sisi's future.
In short, if the Egyptian regime understandably worked hard after the 2013 coup to make itself frequentable and drive the narrative that getting rid of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood was necessary (a narrative largely scooped up internationally), it might have expected that it could now rest on its laurels and enjoy the fruits of that rehabilitation. Yet, with this election, it has had to go back to square one and start its PR campaign anew. Now just wait until Sisi tried to remove term limits and run again...
This feature is made possible by the Arabic translation superheros at Industry Arabic -- some say they have memorized all four editions of Hans Wehr by heart. Check them out for your translation needs.
El-Sisi forms secret committee to polish the regime’s image abroad
al-Araby, 9 March 2018
Egyptian government sources revealed that President Abdelfattah al-Sisi recently formed a top-secret committee under the leadership of his office head, Abbas Kamel, who is currently the acting Director of General Intelligence. The committee is tasked with “improving Egypt’s image abroad and designing political and media communication policies with foreign countries, especially the United States and major European powers, as well as official and independent international organizations.”
Sources indicated that the committee includes Sisi’s security advisor and former Minister of Interior, Ahmed Gamaleddin, National Security Advisor and former Minister Faiza Aboulnaga, the head of the Egypt State Information Service, Dhia Rashwan, as well as representatives from the national security apparatus in the form of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Defense, and Justice, and General Intelligence. Sisi granted this committee wide-reaching powers on several levels:
- It will determine which media/propaganda issues have priority that require a response from the Egyptian authorities through media outlets or official channels.
- It will determine the method for dealing with media or diplomatic criticisms directed at Egypt relating to its political or human-rights stances.
- It will guide diplomatic, legal, and media agencies in Egypt on how to deal with those criticisms.
- It will select and contract with foreign marketing companies and media outlets in the United States and Europe to improve Egypt’s image.
- It will communicate with foreign writers, intellectuals, decision-makers in foreign countries and international organizations, regardless of whether they have offices in Egypt or not.
Sources explained that one of the new committee’s first decisions was to establish a new department that reports to the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and will be responsible for dealing with foreign diplomats and journalists. Its members also received intensive courses on political and media communication, with the goal of improving Egypt’s image abroad and reassuring its European and American partners. The department was tasked with responding to different matters, especially questions from Western diplomats probing into the real causes for the recent security/military operation and whether it is actually aimed at eliminating ISIS in Sinai and the Western Sahara once and for all. The diplomats have also called into question whether this operation is somehow linked to Sisi’s re-election campaign (i.e., boosting Sisi’s popularity and increasing participation in the presidential elections scheduled for the end of this March), or if it is aimed at securing more European aid and facilities for obtaining weapons in an attempt to offset pressure from leftist groups in the European Parliament, who are pushing to prohibit military dealings with the Sisi regime on the basis that it is a repressive regime hostile to civil liberties.
The central committee also decided to select young foreign university graduates, or those with practical experience living abroad, to deal with embassies and international organizations’ offices in Egypt, after putting them through communication training courses. Additionally, the committee bears central responsibility for reviewing statements issued by the Egypt State Information Service, including the latest position on a BBC report about the phenomenon of enforced disappearance in Egypt. Sources explained that the formation of this secret committee came as a result of mounting international criticism of the regime’s political performance, specifically against the background of America’s decision issued last August to freeze and delay some military and economic aid to Egypt.
Cairo has received calls from the US and Europe to adhere to a “more transparent” approach in fighting terrorism in North Sinai in line with “human rights standards.” These concerns come in light of investigative reports accusing the regime of exacerbating conditions in Egypt generally, and Sinai specifically, where the government’s assault on civilian residents has resulted in the evacuation of vast tracts of land without any proof that they have been used in acts of violence. This is also in addition to the regime utilizing bands of civilians to kill wanted persons and suspects, which Washington considers a grave matter that may cause Sinai to become a rallying point for ISIS and other terrorists driven out from different regions of the Middle East.
Clearing a backlog of mostly stale links after a long absence from the blog. Maalesh.
- Israeli Operatives Who Aided Harvey Weinstein Collected Information on Former Obama Administration Officials
Against Iran deal
- Sending Arab troops to Syria a possibility, says Egyptian minister
- Running as Resistance in Occupied Palestine | MERIP
- Egypt battles to rein in debt
Heba Saleh interviews Egyptian Finance Minister Amr Garhy
- Ibn Khaldun: the man who invented modern history | Prospect Magazine
Interview with Robert Irwin.
- Egypt: Former top auditor sentenced to five years in prison
The latest of many outrages.
- Egypt: Looming Humanitarian Crisis in Sinai | HRW
- Votes for sugar
Tom Stevenson on the Sisilection
- Asma Lamrabet quits official post over women's inheritance rights
Moroccan feminist scholar of religion who @ursulind just profiled for @AlFanarMedia
- Elections en Egypte
Good radio show (FR) feat. Stephane Lacroix, Jean-Pierre Filiu, etc.
- Deep States in MENA | Middle East Policy Council
- How the Middle East is sowing seeds of a second Arab spring
- Egypt and Sudan: Diplomatic pacification, unresolved affairs | MadaMasr
- The Arab Spring’s Riskiest Legacy May Be Egypt’s Baby Boom - Bloomberg
- Kidnapped Royalty Become Pawns in Iran’s Deadly Plot - The New York Times
- 'I'd rather die in my house': How Egypt’s 'successful' Sinai campaign starves locals | Middle East Eye
- The Working Group on Egypt’s Letter to General McMaster and Acting Secretary of State Sullivan
- No longer a secret: How Israel destroyed Syria's nuclear reactor - Haaretz
- Scholar Makes a Religious Case for Women’s Rights
@ursulind on Morocco's Asma Lamrabet
- I Knew the Cold War. This Is No Cold War. – Foreign Policy
- Russia's Favorite Syrian Warlord - The Atlantic
- Oppositions algériennes : au-delà du pouvoir
Said Sadi, former head of RCD party
- Who is Losing the Nile?
- L'Algérie tétanisée par un cinquième mandat de Bouteflika
Elites can't agree on a successor, so he stays.
- Why do white people like what I write?
Pankaj Mishra on Ta-Nehisi Coates; delicious if not altogether deserved attack on The Atlantic.
- 'Ensuring happier lives': Chinese media defends move to make Xi Jinping all powerful
This has relevance for MENA, esp. Egypt...
- Salman's Legacy | Hurst Publishers
New book edited by Madawi al-Rasheed.
- Officer in Egypt catches boy who falls from balcony; incident caught on video
- Witnessing the Collapse of the Global Elite - The Atlantic
Eliot A. Cohen.
Nicolas Sarkozy, who is currently on trial (among many corruption charges) because he may have used Gulf (Qatari) or Libyan money to finance his electoral campaign, embarked his country on ill-thought out foreign adventures (Libya) and is the architect of a policy of mainstreaming far-right populist memes for his party's electoral purposes, said this:
The axis of power is shifting from West to East as visionary leadership is surpassing democratic governance as key to stability and prosperity, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy told the Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend forum.
Mr Sarkozy was the final speaker to address the forum hosted by Tamkeen and The Aspen Institute at New York University Abu Dhabi, touching on themes of globalisation, leadership and Brexit.
“Where you see a great leader, there is no populism,” said Mr Sarkozy, who was president of France from 2007 to 2012. “Where is the populism in China? Where is the populism here? Where is the populism in Russia? Where is the populism in Saudi Arabia? If the great leadership leaves the table, the populist leaders come and replace him.”
Modern democracy “destroys” leaderships, he said, noting some of the world’s greatest leaders today come largely from undemocratic governments.
“How could we have a democracy and at the same time accept leadership?” Mr Sarkozy asked the audience. “How can we have a vision that could look into 10, 15, 20 years and at the same time have an election rhythm in the States, for instance, every four years? The great leaders of the world come from countries that are not great democracies.”
And he does this in a country that is almost entirely dependent on Western (and incidentally, democratic) military backing for its own regime security, including defending the "vision" of its leaders.
- Millions flow from Gaddafi’s ‘frozen funds’ to unknown beneficiaries – POLITICO
- As Trump Wavers on Libya, an ISIS Haven, Russia Presses On - The New York Times
- nisralnasr: Rage, Fear, Hope and the Emotions of Revolution
- Toughing It Out in Cairo | by Yasmine El Rashidi | The New York Review of Books
- The State of Emergency in Egypt: An Exception or Rule?
- The West’s war on itself | Synaps
This is a great critique of CVE/PVE by Peter Harling, Alex Simon & Ben Schonveld
- How Italy’s interior minister tackles illegal migration - Charlemagne: The Minniti method
- MEI Editor's Blog: I'm Retiring as Editor
Michael Collins Dunn is retiring - but will continue blogging
- Rien ne va plus en Arabie saoudite – Culture et politique arabes
The Saudi media scene post-Ritz Carlton
- failure to learn from history will exact a heavy price – maegdi
On Egypt's farcical elections
- Tensions au sommet de l’Etat égyptien | Un si Proche Orient
- 'Everyone is trying to get a slice': The gold rush for Saudi cinemas | Middle East Eye
- Au Liban, des hommes politiques chrétiens et chiites jouent un mauvais remake de « L’Insulte »
- Arabie saoudite : les mystères de la purge du Ritz-Carlton
- L’Etat islamique en 2018, vu par les services secrets - Page 1 | Mediapart
- Egypt welcomes US listing of Hasm and Liwa al-Thawra as terror groups | Middle East Eye
- Thousands of ISIS Fighters Flee in Syria, Many to Fight Another Day - The New York Times
- The Sufi-Salafi Rift - Carnegie
Katherine Pollock and Frederic Wehrey on Libya
- Au Maroc, le ras-le-bol des « gueules noires » de Jerada
On social protests in Moroccan coal mining town
- Yemen Dispatch | Middle East Research and Information Project
On Aden and UAE-backed southern separatists
- EFFERVESCENT EGYPT: Venues of Mobilization and the Interrupted Legacy of 2011 | Arab Reform Initiative
- Egypt bulldozes zone by Sinai airport, displacing thousands
- The Donald Trump of Philosophy
- Tunisie : la « démocratisation » ou l’oubli organisé de la question sociale - AOC media
Le président Macron entame ce mercredi une visite d\'État en Tunisie. Sept ans après, que reste-t-il vraiment d\'un changement de régime survenu à la faveur de nombreux mouvements sociaux ?…
- No Winners in Turkey’s New Offensive into Syria | Crisis Group
Interesting details on the fighting in Afrin by Noah Bonsey
- Why the Palestinians Are Boycotting the Trump Administration | The New Yorker
Robin Wright interviews Palestinian ambassador to the US Hosam Zomlot
- Tiny, Wealthy Qatar Goes Its Own Way, and Pays for It - The New York Times
Long piece by Declan Walsh.
Recently on the arabist
- Bulaq Podcast #6: Court Jesters and Black Mirrors
- Robert Caro handwrites to slow down
- On the politics behind Tunisia's protests
- L’armée égyptienne perd pied au Sinaï | Un si Proche Orient
- The Rise of Transnational Kleptocracy – Power 3.0: Understanding Modern Authoritarian Influence
- J’ai vu pleurer les enfants du Rif !
- Egypt’s Sisi Fires Spy Chief as Shuffle of Top Aides Continues - The New York Times
- Trump Administration Accelerating Israeli Embassy Move - WSJ
US Embassy to OneStateLand could open in a year
- Edward Saïd vu par Dominique Eddé | L'ORIENT LITTERAIRE
Said as seen by his lover.
- New Security Solutions for a Middle East in Crisis
First in a series of essay on regional security
- Egypt Raises 'Extreme Concern' About Nile Dam With Ethiopia
I wonder if this linked with the firing of Sisi's intelligence head
- Jadaliyya | An Interview with Amr Hamzawy: Reflections on the Future of Democracy in Egypt and Beyond
- Activists condemn Tripoli militia action, call for legitimate army | Libya Herald
- The Rise of “Bad Civil Society” in Israel - SWP
- Egypt: The Battle Over Appointing Judicial Bodies’ Chief Justices - Carnegie
- Rivalry for Religious Dominance in Egypt - Carnegie
- ISIS Claims Responsibility for Baghdad Bombings
First since fall of Mosul
- La justice rouvre l’enquête sur l’assassinat d’Henri Curiel | Mediapart
Who killed the Egypt-born communist activist?
- How the Muslim Brotherhood's women activists stepped up in Egypt | Middle East Eye
- Salafi mission calls into question Saudi concept of moderation – LobeLog
MBS spreading Salafism in Yemen.
- Algérie, une capitale interdite de manifestation
Stirrings of unrest in Algeria.
- The Others: Foreign Fighters in Libya - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
- On the Politics behind Tunisia’s Protests – The Cairo Review of Global Affairs
My and Michael Ayari's piece reproduced here.
- China bans Muslim children from Quran classes | Al Jazeera
This is ill-advised.
- Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea tensions over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Nile river — Quartz
- Revolt Does Not Always Mean a Revolutionary Road - Carnegie
- Tuesday Becomes Execution Day in Egypt - The New York Times
To think Egypt used to quite rarely execute people.
- Riyadh Ritz, Converted to Posh Prison by Saudis, Is Reopening to Guests - The New York Times
The line on Valentine's Day is gold.
- Donald Trump thanks Qatar for combating 'terrorism' | Al Jazeera
Well that's a change of tune.
- How a Palestine activist became chief of 'Fox News' | al-bab.com
This is quite a story by Brian Whitaker.
- "Kamayanbaghi", le 8e album qui signe avec force le retour des Hoba Hoba Spirit
A great Moroccan band
- Virtual Caliphate Rebooted: The Islamic State’s Evolving Online Strategy
Jade Parker and Charlie Winter
- Egyptian parliament steps closer to banning journalists from court
- Qatar may ask Iran for help in hosting the World Cup
- Egypt approves cabinet reshuffle ahead of elections
Why would you have a reshuffle a few months before presidential elections - unless you already knew the outcome?
- En Tunisie, « le risque d’une dérive autoritaire »
Michael Ayari and Issandr El Amrani
- Gulf tension: Are Egypt and Sudan about to go to war? | Middle East Eye
- Yennayer: Between Algeria's politics, popular celebration and 'invented tradition' | Middle East Eye
Claudia Dreyfus interviews Robert Caro, the author of the monumental biography of LBJ, for NYRB - I found this bit fascinating:
Is it true that you write your books by hand?
My first three or four drafts are handwritten on legal pads. For later drafts, I use a typewriter. I write by hand to slow myself down. People don’t believe this about me: I’m a very fast writer, but I want to write slowly.
When I was a student at Princeton. I took a creative writing course with the literary critic R.P. Blackmur. Every two weeks, I’d give him a short story I’d produced usually at the last minute. At the end of the semester, he said some complimentary words about my writing, and then added, “Mr. Caro, one thing is going to keep you from achieving what you want—you think with your fingers.”
Later, in the early 1960s when I was at Newsday, my speed was a plus. But when I started rewriting The Power Broker, I realized I wasn’t thinking deeply enough. I said, “You have to slow yourself down.” That’s when I remembered Blackmur’s admonition and started drafting by hand, which slows me down.
I wrote the piece below with my colleague Michael Ayari, to touch on the politics behind the scenes of the ongoing protests in Tunisia, which are examined at length in a new Crisis Group report, Stemming Tunisia’s Authoritarian Drift. (Update: Michael and I also have a different piece in Le Monde: En Tunisie, « le risque d’une dérive autoritaire ».)
The protests and rioting that have raged in parts of Tunisia since last week are sometimes branded, both inside the country and abroad, as signs of a new revolutionary moment similar to the 2010-2011 uprising that launched the Arab Spring. The images circulating, after all, give a sense of déjà-vu: young men burning tires at impromptu barricades, throwing stones at police; the army deploying to secure public institutions and banks, etc. This is indeed familiar: it has taken place at regular intervals, especially in winter months, for the last few years. As before, it will most likely die down: protestors are largely driven by specific socio-economic grievances, not a desire to overthrow the regime. Even if there is some continuity -- frustration with social injustice and corruption -- today’s Tunisia is not ruled by a dictator.
The immediate trigger for the current protests was the new state budget for 2018, whose implementation began on 1 January. It introduces tax hikes on a number of consumer goods (especially imports) and services, as well as a one-percent increase in value-added tax, contributing to a pre-existing rise in the cost of living that, in a gloomy economic context for most Tunisians, is understandably unpopular. The government says it needs to raise income to balance its finances, and especially to pay for public sector salaries (which account for over half of expenditures). This budget, passed in December 2017, received the support of the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT), the main trade union federation. In most respects it is more protectionist than liberal, and was opposed by business lobbies.
The government has not been deft in selling its policies: claims that the increases won’t affect the poor have fallen on deaf ears (perceptions of cost-of-living increases are much higher than the 6-percent official inflation rate), and the minister of finance sounded rather Marie-Antoinette-ish when he impatiently suggested in a recent interview that mobile-phone recharge cards, whose prices have increased, were not a basic necessity.
At its core, anger against the government’s austerity policies is driven by an overwhelmingly young population with few prospects, especially in the long-neglected interior part of the country. Successive governments have had little success in changing this since 2011, and the current one must reconcile pressure from the street with that coming from its international partners, including the IMF, which has called for accelerated reforms and greater fiscal responsibility.
The protests are mostly non-violent -- the large protests during the day have been well-organized and peaceful, expressing the general frustration of the population about the meager returns of the 2011 revolution when it comes to living standards. At night, however, a different crowd comes out, often engaging in looting and attacks on public buildings, stealing from stores or taking advantage of localised chaos for criminal purposes. The rage against the system that periodically erupts in the most deprived areas of the country -- and has done so before, during and since the 2011 uprising (indeed there have been similar protests every January for the last three years) -- often targets security forces, as the arson of police stations attests.
The police, which must address the rioting, is showing signs of panic and over-reach: among the over 700 persons arrested since the unrest began are left-wing bloggers and activists who have conducted no illegal acts. This reversion to bad old habits of the era of dictatorship is dangerous, as it may encourage further escalation and shift the framing of current unrest in a more anti-state direction. It is also yet another sign of the lack of reform and capacity-building that has plagued the ministry of interior.
There are subtler political dimensions to the unrest. The protest movement is, unsurprisingly, being encouraged by the opposition, especially the far-left, some of whose activists have been arrested. Tunisia is entering a two-year electoral cycle (local in May 2018, parliamentary and presidential by the end of 2019) and the opposition has an interest in positioning itself against the current governing coalition, led by the secular nationalist Nida Tounes and Islamist An-Nahda parties. It is also supported by elements of civil society and activist groups such as the “Fech Nestannew?” (”What are we waiting for?”) campaign, which is expressing a widely-felt resentment against austerity policies.
Somewhat paradoxically, the anti-government protests are convenient for Nida Tounes and An-Nahda, perennial rivals who nonetheless share a common foe: Youssef Chahed, the prime minister appointed in August 2016 who must now deal with the unrest. Originally seen as subservient to Béji Caid Essebsi, the Nida Tounes leader who was elected as Tunisia’s president in 2014, Chahed has grown in stature and popularity, especially after he launched an anti-corruption campaign in summer 2017. In recent weeks, Chahed is said to have threatened to arrest senior members of both parties and their allies in the public administration -- but has been blocked from doing so. More generally, he has begun to build political alliances in anticipation of 2019’s presidential election, especially with the powerful UGTT. His relationship with Essebsi and An-Nahda leader Rached Ghannouchi has now significantly soured, and they may hope to use the unrest as a pretext to justify his removal or at least dent his appeal.
Previous protests died down after political leaders mobilized to calm the situation or the government granted concessions; this may yet still happen. If not, they carry a risk of amplifying the increasingly prevalent idea that Tunisia’s democratic transition is failing, particularly if security forces over-react and political bickering allows the situation to fester, providing an opening for a wider crackdown in the name of public order. The diffuse sense that the freedoms gained since 2011 are weakening the state and an authoritarian restoration of some sort is necessary is spreading. As Crisis Group argues in its latest report, the danger is that this will encourage political adventurism by would-be saviours on horseback; the resistance any such attempt would engender would likely create far greater unrest, violence and economic misery than the ongoing, often plodding and frustrating, democratic transition.
Tunisia’s leaders, in other words, has little choice but to move forward and work harder to strike a compromise on the social contract -- and especially address the historic neglect of parts of the population -- as they did on their political transition. Nostalgia for the era of dictatorship or the revolutionary fervor of early 2011 will bring only problems, not solutions.
Issandr El Amrani and Michael Ayari are respectively North Africa Project Director and Senior Tunisia Analyst at International Crisis Group.
- Egypt First | Foreign Affairs
Michael Wahid Hanna and Daniel Benaim on Sisi's foreign policy
- D’Ahmed Abou Hashima au Septième voisin : la nationalisation des pertes des médias égyptiens – Culture et politique arabes
- CURIA - OPINION OF ADVOCATE GENERAL WATHELET delivered on 10 January 2018
Western Sahara legal ruling on Morocco-EU fisheries deal
- A week of Province of Sinai attacks on Egyptian and Palestinian targets | MadaMasr
Interesting and rare reporting by Mourad Higazy and Omar Said
- Libya's Monetary Crisis - Lawfare
- U.S. Counterterrorism Forces Are Active in Many More Places Than You Know | US News
- Tunisian anti-austerity campaign leader says social contract is broken | Middle East Eye
- The Militarization of the Red Sea – LobeLog
- ‘Make Egypt Great Again’: Israeli experts question neighbor’s military buildup
- Violences sexuelles : « La nature a remplacé la culture comme origine de la violence »
A delightfully intelligent, erudite and provocative piece on #balancetonporc and the fallout of the Weinstein affair by Olivier Roy.
- How Egyptian security dealt with IEDs threat? - Egypt Today
This is a useful overview of the official perspective.
- Egypt Opens Criminal Inquiry Over New York Times Article - The New York Times
- Legal advisor says EU fisheries deal with Morocco invalid - The Washington Post
- Saudi prince 'fired after audio tape contradicts state' | Saudi Arabia News | Al Jazeera
- Tunisian Jewish school burned as anti-austerity riots rage elsewhere
- Why has Israel banned Jewish leftists but not members of Nazi-linked groups?
- Tunisian opposition calls for protests until austerity plan scrapped | Middle East Eye
- Shafiq quit Egypt election bid after threats of 'sex tape' and corruption slurs: Sources
- Egypt court jails hundreds for offences at 2013 Cairo sit-in | Middle East Eye
- Al Jazeera bureau in Yemen forcibly closed | Al Jazeera
- A flammable peace: Why gas deals won’t end conflict in the Middle East | European Council on Foreign Relations
Interesting on east Med gas geopolitics that could be a boon for Egypt.
- The Origins of Modern Kleptocracy – Power 3.0: Understanding Modern Authoritarian Influence
- Egyptian spy ordered TV smears against presidential hopeful Shafiq | Middle East Eye
More of this "Ashraf al-Kholy" character
- Russia Says Its Syria Bases Beat Back an Attack by 13 Drones
- Sudan turns to UN over territory dispute with Egypt
- Man killed as Tunisia anti-austerity protests spread
- Why are tensions rising in the Red Sea region?
- Iranian lawmaker says 3,700 arrested in days of violent protests
- Deadly protests grip Sudan over rising bread prices
- How the Tariq Ramadan Scandal Derailed the #Balancetonporc Movement in France | The New Yorker
Had forgotten to link to this excellent Adam Shatz piece of how France turned discussion of sexual abuse against women into a controversy over Islam
- Full Court Press - Carnegie
On changes to the Saudi judiciary
- Turkey-based TV airs Egypt tapes on Jerusalem
Same as obtained by NYT presumably, suggesting MB link
- Atheist mother loses custody of children in Egypt
But Sisi is leading religious reform and a secular spring..
- Human rights chief embezzled $1 million to cover losses on internet gambling, police say
Quite an investigation by Brian Whitaker on UAE-linked Palestinian fraudster
- Qatari-owned jewels stolen in audacious heist in Venice | Middle East Eye
It's comforting to know that there are still jewel thieves plotting heists
- As a 2-State Solution Loses Steam, a 1-State Plan Gains Traction - The New York Times
Of course, the Palestinian one-staters are far more democratic than their Israeli counterparts.
- Tapes Reveal Egyptian Leaders’ Tacit Acceptance of Jerusalem Move
- Saudi attorney general: 11 princes arrested after crowding near palace - Al Arabiya English
They were protesting being made to pay their utility bills 9allegedly - dissidents say this is made up)
- Palestinians rally against Greek Orthodox patriarch
Over alleged sale of land to Israelis
- Cleric Salman al-Awda 'held over Qatar tweet'
"Salman al-Awda detained over refusal to tweet specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, his family says."
- Egypt refutes NYT report on tacit acceptance of Jerusalem move
NYT should release the recordings it obtained.
- Gulf Crisis Expands into the Horn of Africa
James Dorsey on Turkey's entry into the Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia-Gulf nexus
- La monarchie marocaine, ce vecteur de la contamination
Excellent post on corruption as a mechanism of control
- Parfum de scandale dans une ferme royale - Le Desk
Exploitation of women laborers in king of Morocco’s farms.
- Au Yémen, les Emirats arabes unis se rapprochent des Frères musulmans
UAE joins KSA in engaging Yemeni MB party Islah.
- Disparition de Gilbert Meynier, « passeur » de l’histoire algérienne
- « En Syrie, le viol était le maître mot »
Utterly devastating accounts of systematic rape in Assad's jails