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Showing posts from November, 2012

And History was made

Abbas' all or nothing

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, announced on 12 November during a LAS meeting that the request whereby the UN General Assembly would grant Palestine enhanced observer status would be formalized (and the vote would thus take place) today (29 November 2012, 65th anniversary of the UN partition resolution, "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People"). "The required simple majority is already guaranteed", an ecstatic Abbas told reporters in Cairo. Palestinian officials reckon the Resolution has nearly 60 co-sponsors and estimate at least 130 countries will vote for the proposal. EU member states will unsurprisingly find themselves, once again, divided, and their votes will surely follow the same direction as in the "UNESCO case" last year: 11 supported the entry of Palestine as a state, 5 opposed, and the remaining 11 abstained. One thing is for sure, and makes me really happy: Spain and France will vote

Good luck, Egypt!

Today may be a key day for Egypt's future. My heart and my mind are with you, my beloved Egyptians. Be brave, stay safe and don't let anybody stand in your way (again)! And Egypt, of course, delivered (although the MB were not so sure about that...) Loved this interactive map

Update on the Syrian opposition

It seems the new Syrian coalition is having a huge success and is making strides in what has already been called the "Doha Process". The UK has been the ninth country to grant the group full recognition, together with the Gulf States, Turkey, France and Italy. Other international actors have stopped short of recognising the group as a Government in-waiting or the sole representative of the Syrian opposition: that has been the stance chosen by both the EU and the United States. Qatar, France and the UK have even asked the opposition to appoint an ambassador to the country, a perfect first step towards an enhanced representation throughout the world. Why some authorities have doubts when it comes to give the final push to the body? First of all, probably because it is still too soon: recognition comes hand in hand with responsibilities, and the group hasn't still achieved anything near of coordinated military action. The new authorities have been accused of being to

Why calm has still not taken hold in Jordan?

Weeks ago, I wrote an introduction on what was happening in Jordan. Apparently, I still have further things to elaborate on... Widespread protests keep taking place despite the Police's promise to crackdown on any incitement to violence. Demonstrations first broke out as a result of an announcement that has been considered the last straw: a future spike in prices of fuel and gasoline, staples that have been subsidized over the years in order to ease the burden on the population and to thus guarantee an artificial stability (as several Arab countries do). This decision has been justified citing an imposition of the IMF and the need to forestall a fiscal crisis, even though some pundits believe it won't really represent huge savings for the Treasury, and will actually worsen an already difficult economic situation the current rulers seem to disregard and that won't be solved merely handing out cash payments to ease the pain. It seems King Abdullah II is facing

The end?

   Only time (hours? days? weeks? months? hopefully years!) will tell... Apparently, one Palestinian has already been killed . Maybe it was just a matter of hours... Meanwhile, there go several links which may help us building a more comprehensive analysis (Plus the ones I posted before the ceasefire ) Lluis Basset's assesses the agreement's regional consequences (El Pais - in Spanish) NYT 's main article (and its Editorial ) How Hamas won the war  (FP) also here (Haaretz)  Or not? (Al Ayyam) also here  (Foreign Affairs) Half victory, half defeat  (Al Ayyam) Israel's gamble (Foreign Affairs) More on the winners and losers of the conflict (Le Monde - in French) The Economist's forecast Al Jazeera's coverage Has Israel been talking to all the region?  (Al Monitor) Same text, different result?  (Haaretz) The day after  (Haaretz) Insightful background of the negotiations (Al Hayat) Bibi's wrong calculations


It's that time of the week! I of course welcome any additional link. Links on the conflict in Gaza The new Rais' Constitutional Declaration  (text and related here )  Egyptian judges have accused him of putting in jeopardy balance of power , even though some don't quite agree with this accusation His controversial Revolution Protection Law may fail ME nuclear talks won't take place soon Arafat's body will be exhumed on Tuesday (introduction here ) Iran warns the U.S. Karzai starts setting the tone for the handover of power Charges against the Christian girl in Pakistan have finally been dropped , even though her and her family are still at risk (I talked about it here ) Courageous youth in Iran Additional burdens for Saudi women Syrian refugees gear up for a dire winter Turkey and the EU: irreconcilable differences? Syria's unveiled woman's huge controversy Extremism is Egyp's real main challenge Egypt's "new/old" role in

A new Rais for Egypt? Maybe not...

"Morsi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt's new pharaon" Mohamed El Baradei (as I already admitted, one of my heroes). The text (via Al Ahram) Article I: Reopen the investigations and prosecutions in the cases of the murder, the attempted murder and the wounding of protesters as well as the crimes of terror committed against the revolutionaries by anyone who held a political or executive position under the former regime, according to the Law of the Protection of the Revolution and other laws. Article II: Previous constitutional declarations, laws, and decrees made by the president since he took office on 30 June 2012, until the constitution is approved and a new People’s Assembly [lower house of parliament] is elected, are final and binding and cannot be appealed by any way or to any entity. Nor shall they be suspended or canceled and all lawsuits related to them and brought before any judicial body against these decisions are annulle

The events in the Strip: links and still unanswered questions

I have promised myself I won't write about what's currently happening in Gaza. Too many emotions, too many friends I love and respect, too afraid to say something that could be missunderstood. Those of you who know me, know how I feel towards the occupation. I don't think I should state it or post it on my FB wall. I will however post several links I've found most interesting. Please feel free to add more. Sami Nair's take (in Spanish): he is so good, it may deserve a translation Other (journalist, therefore much more reliable than me) friends' takes: Ismael Monzón  Francesca Cicardi Ricard Gonzalez Conflict in Gaza tests alliances Morsi's little room for maneuver   Running an errand during a ceasefire can be dangerous Jebari's killing from a brave neutral point of view The conflict' effect on Morsi's clout regarding Israel Hamas in jeopardy?  Where do the missiles come from?  + another take  (in Spanish) On the Iro


Just to let you know that, insofar as I learn further on certain issues, I normally try to consequently update some ancient posts. I am still discovering many many things, and I know I have a long journey ahead of me! Any and all of you are still welcome to help me in this process.

Does nation-building require a unified educational system?

I guess this question can be raised when it comes to every country in the world, but it started playing in my mind while reading about Lebanon, an incredibly heterogeneous country that has been under construction for several decades. And what is one of the most important elements when creating a national identity, notably according to the German doctrine? Exactly, History! Indeed, the state's authorities have been struggling to create a unified History since the end of the bloody Civil War that ravaged the country and left many psychological scars behind (some of them are opened from time to time, like, for instance, weeks ago ). The hallmark 1989 Taif Accords that put an end to the conflict called for a civic education to be uniform across the territory, in order to promote a (still fragile) national unity. This consensus was however ignored, leading to considerable void in the subsequent generations' education, or at lest general knowledge (I am talking about public e

Guess which is the most militarized territory in the world?

According to the latest Global Militarisation Index by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion, Israel tops the list of the world’s most militarised states. The Index is based on a number of weighted variables, such as the comparison of a country’s military budget with its GDP and the percentage of the GDP the country spends on development (notably on health care). The Index also uses other variables, for instance the personnel in the paramilitary and military forces (but not the police) and the number of heavy weapons to the total population. Unsurprisingly, six of the top ten states are located in the Middle East. That includes, besides Israel, Syria (number 4), Jordan (number 5), Kuwait (number 7), Bahrain (number 9, a first for the kingdom, notably "thanks to" last year's repression), and Saudi Arabia (number 10). Moreover, Oman (11), the UAE (13), Lebanon (17), Iraq (26) and Egypt (28) stand out as highly militarised states, too. Contrary to what some mi

Sorrow in Egypt

Unfortunately, nobody is going to be held accountable for the atrocity taking place in Gaza. Not today, not ever. But for sure somebody (and not only the corresponding) should be held accountable for the school bus' accident that killed more than 50 innocent children in Egypt yesterday. I don't care if stupid people drive without using their brains once and put only their life under threat. But those who risk children's survival should be harshly punished. I'm not in favor of death penalty but I sometimes toy with the idea when it comes to that kind of unfair events. Innocent pupils killed by somebody's irresponsibility. Never again. Egypt also has to speak out for what is happening everyday in its roads. That reminds me of a striking headline I read last year in Al Ahram: "number killed in Egyptian car crashes last year exceeds Revolution's martyrs" (pretty clear, isn't it?). Official estimates place the number of deaths resulting from road


More articles on the serious issue of sexual harassment Women are people, too (the title says it all) Landmark sentence in Egypt (hopefully, the first among many) More on the new Syrian opposition Composition of the SNC About the SNC's new President A Syrian dissident's take Reform in Saudi Arabia? Saudis face "seeds of discord" trial The younger generation at last ? Obama's reelection and the Middle East : great piece by The Arabist's Issandr El Amrani Also on The Arabist, IDEA's pundit's take on the Egyptian Constitution in the offing (great podcast!) The future of Middle East regionalism  by The Internationalist North Korea attempted to provide the Syrian regime with weapons : a new "evil axis"? 14 March's members and relatives of Shia hostages hand in hand : beautiful story showing Lebanon's potential for peace and understanding The pyramids in danger?  No comment on that, just look at what they have

Syria's potential for disruption

Via L'Orient Le Jour

To extradite or not to extradite: that's the UK's question

The UK Special Immigration Appeals Commission granted at the beginning of the week the appeal of Abu Qatada , a Muslim cleric and a controversial figure, believed to be part of Al Qaeda (some have even called him "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe"). The sentence allows him not to be extradited to Jordan, for the court considered he could not receive a fair trial in the latter country (citing the fact that Jordanian law allows the use of evidence gained as a result of torture), where he is accused of setting up terrorist attacks in 1999 and 2000 (he has been already convicted in absentia there). The cleric was thus released on bail yesterday, though subject to a 16-hout curfew (besides electronic tagging, a ban on Internet use and prohibitions on meeting some people). The thing is that even though the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] (a very much moot body for many UK politicians) had already blocked his deportation, he was arrested in April to begin depor

A new (and improved) Syrian Opposition?

One of the differences between Libya and Syria cited by many pundits (and often justifying the non intervention of foreign forces in the country) is the absence of a unified opposition that could eventually be in charge of spearheading the difficult transition process after Assad's overthrow. At the outset, this responsibility fell into the hands of the Syrian National Council (SNC) members. The body, nonetheless, started receiving more and more criticism, leading to an increasingly divided opposition (as I already pointed out here ) and to a palpable disenchantment within all its Western and Arab partners, falling " from darling to outcast " and no longer being considered a legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition, as US Secretary of State Clinton recently stressed (" The SNC cannot anymore be considered as the leader of the opposition"). According to Al-Monitor , this failure is also Turkey's failure, for the latter has repeatedly tried