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Showing posts from March, 2014

Elecciones que determinarán (o no) el futuro de Oriente Medio en 2014

Pareciera en ocasiones que los únicos factores que contribuyen a dibujar el futuro de Oriente Medio – la mayoría de ellos ya fueron expuestos en  este artículo  – quedan fuera del control de los ciudadanos: sectarismo, represión, intervención extranjera , golpes de estado (¿o eran pseudo-revoluciones?)… Sin embargo, y a pesar de  que la democracia no se pueda considerar aún como el punto fuerte de la región, varias elecciones tendrán lugar en muchos de sus países. Concretamente ocho, y gran parte de ellas en los que muchos consideran los países clave desde el punto de vista geoestratégico. Es por ello que, aunque muchos pueden sentir la tentación de descartar la relevancia de estos acontecimeintos por considerarlos meros procedimientos o decisiones de cara a la galería, quizás haya llegado el momento de prestar atención tanto a los pasos previos como a los resultados de las mismas.

What's the story, Morning Glory? Or how Libya finds itself on the verge of collapse

Last Saturday May 17th, amidst heavy fighting in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, civilians were told to leave town as troops prepared for a new assault on Islamist militias. These were not however part of the country's army but of the self-declared Libyan National Army, which includes some army and air force units led by the retired general, Khalifa Heftar, as the interim authorities had previously denounced an offensive launched by the former general against Islamists as a "coup" bid. This is not the first alarming news coming from the North African country. Even though the news went unnoticed because Ukraine and the Malayan plane swamped our screens for a while, Libya is not faring that well. First, a Panamanian-flagged North Korean tanker (beautifully called "Morning Glory") took an illegal cargo of crude oil from rebels in the east of the country and safely left the port, ignoring the government’s threats of military action . Afterwards and as a co

Elections that may (re)shape the Middle East in 2014

Sometimes, it seems as though the only factors which contribute to sketch the future of the Middle East, most of them I laid out in this article , are out of the control of the citizens: sectarianism, repression, foreign intervention, coups (or non-coups)... However, and even though democracy may (still) not be seen as the key strength of the region, several elections are taking place in many of its countries. Concretely eight, nothing less, and in what many consider key countries that do have a say in regional - and often international - issues. This is why, although many may feel tempted to dismiss those events as procedural or even cosmetic moves, we all should take a closer look at the previous steps and the outcome of these votes.

Happy International Women's day to you, Syrian ladies?

Women are not only half of a society but its mainstay. They bear its children and they raise its generations. Together with Tunisia, Syria was one of the countries in which women were allowed a limited margin of freedom and benefited from a more advanced social status than their brethren throughout the Arab world. One example was the wife of Bashar Al-Assad, known worldwide for her stylish and elegant attitude, a symbol of the will of the regime to appear as a civil and secular state. Their situation was, of course, far from what Western women are familiar with, as most of them were subject to the tyranny of a culture dominated by men. The civil war represented however a turning point in this evolution. And, when violence broke out in Syria, women were the first victims, seeing themselves subject to the whims of extremists both in the rebel-side and in the regime.