The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged Arabs
Iraq's elections: anything goes

 The Economist has a round-up of Iraq's election results and this nice chart. The bottom line:

The parties may still have to wait several more weeks while voting disputes are resolved and seats in parliament allocated. A complex formula will boost representation for women and minorities (including Christians) and award extra seats to the largest parties. Only then will the winner be revealed. The group with the most seats will not necessarily have won most votes.

The slowness of the count contrasted with the frenetic pace of negotiations in Baghdad’s hotel lobbies and party headquarters. No alliance came even close to an outright win. Messrs Maliki and Allawi both face an uphill struggle to find a winning coalition. Their most obvious partners are the Kurds, who are part of the present government and will seek to stay on to defend their regional privileges. With two suitors wooing them, they will demand extra concessions.

But the Kurds are no longer the sole kingmakers. Assuming they act as one block, including a newish reform party called Goran (meaning Change) as well as the two older ones, their 50-odd seats would still not be enough to give either Mr Maliki or Mr Allawi the 163 seats they need to command a majority in parliament.

So the Iraqi National Alliance, an umbrella group for Shia religious parties that campaigned strongly against both men, may hold the final balance. Within that alliance, Mr Sadr has a role. But another part of the National Alliance, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), could also play a part, even though it did badly in the election, getting only a dozen seats. As part of Mr Maliki’s current government, ISCI will also be keen to stay on board, enjoying the perks and patronage of office. But it strongly opposes Mr Allawi’s anti-Iranian stance and in the past has quarrelled with Mr Maliki too. In any case, ISCI alone is too small to swing the balance.

Having not really followed Iraq's politics since the invasion, I'm feeling it's time to take an interest again now that they are at least partly running things themselves, with all the glorious complications of that country's politics. And they've already made a comeback to the Arab regional scene by doing the classic Arab state thing at the Arab League summit: they are boycotting (a good Jazeera wrap-up btw) because Qadhafi held a meeting with Baathists. And to think they were originally meant to host...

Links for 08.06.09 to 08.08.09
Informed Comment: Statement on Iran by Engaged Scholars | It starts: "If we speak out against the threat of force against Iran (regarding the nuclear conflict) and warn against a military strike, we cannot be silent on the use of force in Iran itself against its own civil society. For solidarity with the civil society and a peaceful order in the region constitute the primary concern of our efforts. If we condemn foreign sanctions against the Iranian people, we deplore all the more domestic sanctions directed at peaceful demonstrators, journalists, trade unionists, professors, students and others. Thereby the government deprives itself from the domestic basis needed against foreign threats."
Sex and the Saudi: one man riles a nation - Middle East, World - The Independent | "In this ultra-conservative kingdom, where husbands and wives rarely even kiss in public, many Saudis have been scandalised by a compatriot who spoke frankly about sex on satellite TV, showing off erotic toys and fantasising about joining the mile-high club." The silly man might now be lashed.
Wily Walid | Walid Jumblatt, after saying he might leave M14, says he just thinks it should change its slogans. Is there anything more to M14 (or M8 for that matter) than slogans? In any case too many people focus on the significance of Jumblatt leaving. He was probably renegotiating his participation in M14 without really intending to leave, and was trying to raise his price.
‘Atlantic’ concedes the groundbreaking impact of a piece it killed | Good post on The Atlantic miserably dishonest coverage of the Israel/Palestine issue.
Le Quotidien d’Algérie, le journal de l’éveil algérien - De violents affrontements entre Chinois et Algériens à Bab Ezzouar | Riots between Chinese laborers and Algerians.
Popularity contest - The National Newspaper | On the false hope that Iran's political turmoil will change Arab public opinion about resistance.

New Arab Human Development Report
The latest installment in the Arab Human Development Report, Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries , is out. From the executive summary:

In the Arab region, human insecurity—pervasive, often intense and with consequences affecting large numbers of people—inhibits human development. It is revealed in the impacts of military occupation and armed conflict in Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Occupied Palestinian Territory. It is found in countries that enjoy relative stability where the authoritarian state, buttressed by flawed constitutions and unjust laws, often denies citizens their rights. Human insecurity is heightened by swift climatic changes, which threaten the livelihoods, income and access to food and water of millions of Arabs in future. It is reflected in the economic vulnerability of one-fifth of the people in some Arab states, and more than half in others, whose lives are impoverished and cut short by hunger and want. Human insecurity is palpable and present in the alienation of the region’s rising cohort of unemployed youth and in the predicaments of its subordinated women, and dispossessed refugees.

A press release can be found here.

Update: Fatemah Farag in Masri al-Youm has an interview with the lead author of the report, Professor Mustafa Kamal Sayed of Cairo University, who says he has disowned the report after major changes were made without consulting him:

"They then sent me the final report and the changes were drastic. They should not have taken place without consulting me. After all the contract we signed says that the final draft is the responsibility of the lead author in consultation with UNDP. And it is the first time in the history of the report that the lead author not be consulted with regards the final draft."

At the end of the day El Sayed says he "refused the changes for scientific reasons since they undermine the quality of the report."

One such change is moving the chapter on the impact of foreign occupation in the region to human security from being the second chapter to being the last "which of course undermines the importance of this factor. Undermines the impact of Israeli occupation in Palestine and American occupation in Iraq to human security," elucidates El Sayed.

Another change was the dropping of a chapter on identity conflict in the region. "The report demonstrated that identity conflict causes damage that exceeds that of foreign occupation. The casualties of the situation in South Sudan, civil war in Lebanon and other such conflicts are very high and yet this chapter was reduced to two pages integrated into another chapter," adds El Sayed.

"Personal security, which we had slotted as the last chapter after chapters on foreign occupation, poverty and lack of health services was moved to chapter four – putting the ramifications before the reasons. Further within this chapter I had been careful to maintain balance – by highlighting for example that major Arab cities remain much safer in terms of personal security than many other major cities of the South. This balance is no longer reflected in the current report," lamented El Sayed.

He considers that such changes and omissions not only weaken the report but disregard UNDP's own analyses and concepts in defining human security.

In 2004, I had interviewed the report's previous lead author, Nader Fergany, about the pressure he came under from Israel and the US. If you remember, Bush had delayed the publication of the report because of its criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and US occupation of Iraq.
Links for 07.20.09 to 07.21.09
Iran's Mir Hosein Mousavi: Out of his shell | The Economist | What Moussavi's been up to.
The Arabs' view of Iran: Mixed feelings | The Economist | On Arabs' view of the recent political turmoil in Iran.
Honour killings in Syria: The law changes. Will attitudes? | The Economist | Bashar al-Assad timidly moves against honor crimes.
The "Swiftboating" of Human Rights Watch (Prospects for Peace) | A good piece on the lobby's attack on HRW.
Wait, Bibi-- Palestinians can't go buy property in West Jerusalem | Bibi claims that Palestinians are free to buy property in West Jerusalem, so why not let Jews buy in East Jerusalem... except of course it's a lie, you can't buy in WJ if you're not Jewish. Not too mention, of course, under international law any Israeli-owned property in East Jerusalem is an illegal settlement.
Daily News Egypt - Full Article |
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy 2008 | Egypt, Jordan Morocco start at 118. [PDF]
Islamists Today: Mubarak Regime and Brotherhood: Zero-Sum Game | Khalil al-Anani has a very strong column on the ongoing MB-regime war - but perhaps he goes too far by comparing the arrest of Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh to the execution of Sayyid Qutb! Not do I really believe the regime wants to eradicate the MB, but Khalil's expression "to turn it into an antique suitable for the Egyptian Museum" may have some truth to it. The regime's dilemma is, how do you make the MB irrelevant?

Links for January 13th

Automatically posted links for January 13th: