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Showing posts from March, 2013

Lebanon's political mess

It seems as of lately the Middle East is all about resignations. Resignations that could turn into game-changers. The head of the Syrian National Coalition announced his resignation on his Facebook page, although he later represented the Syrian opposition in an Arab League Summit that, according to some, inaugurated an era, as the Syrian opposition occupied the chair of the legitimate representatives of Syria before the international organization.

Israel: ¿nuevo Gobierno, nuevas ilusiones?

Hace unas semanas os hablamos de cómo se presentaban las  elecciones en Israel . Tal y como vaticinaban la mayoría de los pronósticos, la alianza entre el Primer Ministro Benyamin Netanyahu y el antiguo Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores Avigdor Lierberman, venció en las elecciones parlamentarias, y su líder no tardó en cantar victoria, por muy incomoda que ésta resultara si se tiene en cuenta el reparto de votos. Sin embargo, contra casi todas las predicciones, el proceso conducente a la formación de un nuevo gobierno no ha sido tan acomodaticio como éste ultimo hubiese deseado.

Syria's eventual breakdown

According to this enlightening article ,  " the regime's main goal is to maintain control of the international highway between the capital and the coast which runs through Homs. This is the only highway left, connecting cities like Tartous and Lattakia – with an 'Alawi majority – and the capital. Regime forces are engaged in deadly fighting in the neighbourhood of Baba Amro in Homs, where opposition fighters have mounted a recent comeback, rather than Raqqa with its strategic importance to the country.   We can conclude from this that the regime priority is to keep control on its supportive cantons rather than keeping Syria whole. We are seeing the partitioning of Syria ".

Did Algeria already have its Spring or is it waiting for it?

There have been many comments on the media about an eventual "Algerian Spring". Some quickly retort Algeria already had its own Spring more than twenty years ago. Others are waiting for it. The rest believe things will never really change in the North-African country, at least not any time soon. Algeria has been dubbed the "bad pupil" of the Arab awakenings, the exception from this exciting phenomenon, a country where the status quo seems not to have been modified that much, despite the reforms put through by the regime one year ago.

The tunnels' issue

As if Hamas didn't have enough... According to the ceasefire Hamas and Israel agreed upon under the auspices of Mr Morsi and the US after the short but bloody November war , all of Gaza's crossing with both Egypt and Israel should be opened. This would have meant the desperately needed lifting of the siege imposed in 2007 by Israel for what it called security reasons. But the text has not been entirely implemented. Far from that. In 2010, Israel already eased some of the limits they imposed on imports into the coastal enclave. Trade was further eased across the Kerem Shalom crossing before its temporary closure after Gaza militants fired a rocket at the Israeli city of Ashkelon as a reprisal for the death of a Palestinian youth that sparked the fears of a third intifada. This crossing is an economic lifeline for the territory's 1.6 million Palestinians, as it provides the vast majority of consumer goods (building materials and fuel usually come from Egypt). Israeli au

Elections in Israel: the outcome. What might the Palestinian territories expect?

The introduction on the elections can be found here . According to most forecasts, incumbent Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's alliance won the parliamentary elections, and its leader duly claimed (a humbling) victory. But, as almost no one predicted, the process leading to the formation of a new government has not been as smooth as he would have liked, for the second place was surprisingly awarded to a complete newcomer, Yair Lapid, and his party Yesh Atid ("There is a future"). Naftali Bennett's "Jewish House Party" also did well, although not as well as expected. Moreover, both centrist and leftist parties made significant gains. Meanwhile, far-right parties did not fare as well as polls had indicated. The outcome also showed a new generation is being given shape to, for young voters voted for new candidates that repeatedly publicly denounced their being tired of the never-changing "old regime" of Netanyahu, Lieberman, Barak and the like

"Arab Springs" in the making or mere bouts of unrest?

When it comes to analyzing the so-called "Arab Spring" (a term most pundits increasingly warn against, but that nowadays holds a significant meaning and won't stop being of widespread use anytime soon), a question that comes to many people's minds hinges on the extension of the movement. Has it spread to all Arab countries? What about the Gulf monarchies? Have they been really spared of the unrest or will it eventually increase reaching their neighbour's dimension or, worse still, consequences? Notable cases in point are the United Arab Emirates and Oman. In the United Arab Emirates , 94 people have gone on trial on charges of trying to overthrow their Government, in a process that many human rights watchdogs have shown concern towards, stressing irregularities, arbitrariness and lack of transparency. Coincidentally, the suspects include human rights lawyers, doctors, academics and student leaders, all of them arrested throughout last year, after having advoc

Syria: self-government as a first step, ultimately a democracy?

Even though small governing bodies have been set up in rebel-held areas, the Syrian opposition on the ground is trying to put into place a province-wide authority controlled by civilian, and not military, authorities, and has announced the creation of a 29-elected members provincial council in the battered city of Aleppo. This move has been hailed as an optimistic first step towards the laying of the foundations for a future Syrian state that will rise to power once Assad is overthrown. It is however unclear how these representative bodies will interact with the Syrian opposition in exile, which has been already recognised as a "government-in-waiting".

I told you so: it's Iraq we should be worried about!!

In what many consider the most serious spillover of the Syrian conflict into a neighbouring country (others grant that honour to the car explosion that took place in Beirut last year ), approximately 40 Syrian soldiers who were escaping from rebel attacks and crossed the border with Iraq and were accompanied by Iraqi soldiers were killed by unidentified gunmen (some blame Al-Qaeda, there's no evidence to that) in the Iraqi province of Anbar (a Western territory with, coincidentally, a Sunni majority and also epicenter of the recent unrest ). Even though the authorities claim they've not picked sides, Prime Minister's Maliki's covert support of Assad's regime has been denounced by several observers. You simply cannot back a dictator who has already massacred more than 70,000 people, wounded much more and chased away hundreds of thousands, even if you act out of strategic reckoning, and expect your population to stay quiet.

Settler and peace activist at the same time?

Eliaz Cohen is a resident of the nearby settlement of Kfar Etzion, located between Jerusalem and Hebron in the southern West Bank . He is well-known thanks to its verses and several media outlets have dubbed him " the settler poet ". He is a bearded yarmulke-clad faithful Jewish who cannot imagine a life outside its settlement and thus ran for a post in the Yesha Council ( political arm of the Jewish residents of Yesha/West Bank ) but who has, at the same time, helped many Palestinians to get Israeli permits to build new houses in scattered towns throughout the West Bank.    It all started when he learnt about the inadequate living conditions in the neighbouring village of Hirbat Zachariah, where overpopulation stifles growth and survival, and where the majority of teenagers have to emigrate from . He is not a staunch supporter of the one "state solution", but believes peace requires mutual recognition of everybody's right to the same land: "it i

Is Libya different from its brethren?

As of lately and since last summer, many world leaders and commentators alike have been urging Libyan leaders to move quickly on deciding the process whereby a new Constitution will be drafted. Everybody knew transition to democracy and rebuilding the country was going to be a huge endeavour, but nobody predicted such a Sisyphus' task, partly due to political wrangling and regional rivalries. Following the provisions of the Constitutional Declaration of 3 August 2011, the country held the first election in more than 50 years last July, considered generally free and fair by local and international observers. Even more importantly, Libya had, for the first time, functioning political parties and has since seen an optimistic proliferation of civil society organizations, as well as of dynamic media outlets. In August, the National Transitional Council handed power to a newly elected Assembly, the General National Congress, charged with the responsibility of forming a Constituent Ass