Monday, February 09, 2015

Leaked conversation between then soon-to-be-president al-Sisi and high ranking collaborators about shaking down the Gulf Shaykhs and stashing billions in the Army banks accounts

Borzou Daragahi offers an excellent report on the leaked tapes.

The plotters' ridicule of and obvious disdain for the Gulf "half-states" will not play well in Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Leaked conversations in Arabic (with subtitles)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Saturday, December 06, 2014

31st Annual Meeting of the Conference Group on the Middle East: Call for Papers for 2015

The Conference Group on the Middle East (CGME) meets in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.  The 2015 meeting convenes in San Francisco, September 2-6.

Young people represent a gigantic majority of the Arab population.  While the proportions obviously vary, in places like Iraq, Gaza, Syria and Egypt, upwards of three quarters of the population are young than 30 years.  In one case after another, young people face a future of "adulthood denied" to quote the title of a topical monograph, in the sense that they lack the ability to get a decent job, have their own place to live, marry and reproduce the family.  
Youths played significant, often leading roles in the demonstrations that marked the first stage of the Arab Awakenings that began in late 2010.  The cases of Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen come to mind, but also Morocco, Bahrain, Jordan and certainly Syria, among other instances.  Many of the youthful political activists and mobilizers were later marginalized as better organized, more experienced and more brutal actors displaced them and state elites clawed back power.  Today in repressive Egypt, for example, many of the key youth actors are in jail serving long terms for disobedience, organizing protests or a variety of trumped up charges.  
The CGME will address youth politics after the Arab Awakenings: Is there a "youth politics", are there organized political forces devoted to youth causes, and what has been the enduring impact of formal or informal associational life on the texture and content of politics in the Middle East; has something important changed? The welcomes empirically informed papers that rigorously address single cases, including studies of single associations, parties or interest groups, country studies, or comparative studies. Theoretically oriented papers are welcome as well.

CGME:  three decades ago, little serious attention was paid to the Middle East at the annual meetings of the leading disciplinary associations, including the American Political Science Association (APSA). Professor Louis J. Cantori and a small group of colleagues, including this writer, decided in 1983 to create the Conference Group the Middle East (CGME), which convened for the first time in 1984 and has continued ever since.

Friday, November 28, 2014

AR Norton, "Obama's Middle East Headaches", Current History, December 2014

"To describe the Middle East as in tumult would be an understatement. Four countries—Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen—are in some semblance of civil war, and a discourse of violence infects much of the region. Just four years after the mass demonstrations that signaled a popular Arab political awakening, not only haveeconomic and social conditions failed to improve, but forces of the old order are clawing back power."

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Current History, December 2014, "The Middle East"


December 2014 Vol. 113, No. 767
339 ISIS and the Third Wave of Jihadism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fawaz A. Gerges
The Islamic State has taken the world by surprise with its lightning offensives in Iraq and Syria. Understanding the group requires exploring its roots in the global jihadist movement.

344 The Saudi Thermidor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Frederic Wehrey
Dissatisfied with Washington, Riyadh has undertaken an activist strategy for restoring regional order in its own image—but its forceful interventions abroad mask a deep domestic malaise.

350 The Silent Victory of the Israeli Settlers’ Movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ami Pedahzur
Settlers have employed nonviolent tactics to penetrate the Israeli bureaucracy and change facts on the ground. Their fundamentalism, mirrored by Palestinian Islamists, has undermined hopes for peace.

356 Turkey at a Tipping Point . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jenny White
For more than a decade, the Islamic-rooted ruling party has overseen deep changes in Turkish society.  Now the prime minister’s authoritarian ways threaten to tear open old wounds.

362 Kurdish Nationalism’s Moment of Truth? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael Eppel
The Kurds have long been one of the world’s largest ethnic groups without a nation-state. The current
turmoil in the Middle East may finally create the conditions for their independence. Third in a series on resurgent nationalism around the world.

Barack Obama has tried to reduce American involvement in the region, but events keep pulling him
back in. Iraq and Syria are spiraling out of control, while allies only make things worse.

372 Syria in the Abyss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Max Weiss
A new book by journalist Reese Erlich offers a tour of the hell that Syria has become, and an explanation of how it got there. To bring peace, he argues, foreign intervention must end.

374 October 2014

An international chronology of events in October, country by country, day by day.

375 2014 Current History Index

Monday, November 17, 2014

Can Iraq Be Saved?

Retired Colonel Joseph Núñez spent five years in Iraq. What makes him relatively unique is that much of his time was spent in Iraq's provinces, so he has been, so to speak, in the weeds. His talk is sponsored by the Institute for Iraqi Studies (@IISBU) at the Pardee School, 121 Bay State Road, First Floor, on November 19th at 4 p.M. I have known the speaker for a long time, beginning with three years as colleagues on the West Point faculty. This shoud be a fascinating talk.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

FT: Israel's Dwindling Circle of Supporters

"Benjamin Netanyahu has not had a good year. Israel’s prime minister was blamed by the US administration for wrecking its latest attempt to reassemble a peace process. In truth, there were obstinacies and obstacles on both sides, but publicly and privately, US officials identified Israel’s land grabs in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as the principal cause of the breakdown." "Only this month Philip Hammond, Britain’s foreign secretary, said he “deplored” plans for more than 2,000 additional homes for Israeli settlers in Palestinian East Jerusalem. France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said it put in question Israel’s oft-stated commitment to a negotiated peace. Europeans have come to see settlement expansion as a strategy calculated to destroy fast-fading hopes for a two-state agreement." .......... "European governments had backed Mr Abbas’s initiative to forge a joint administration with Hamas as a prelude to serious peace talks. Now they speculate that the Gaza operation was Mr Netanyahu’s attempt to wreck any accommodation." "These episodes have not undercut the fundamental commitment of allies to Israel’s right to live in peace and security. They have drained patience and trust and led many to believe Mr Netanyahu prefers a permanent state of war to a difficult peace."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Egypt's deepening dictatorship

As you may have noticed from press reports, the Carter Center, which opened an office in Egypt in 2011 following the January 25 Revolution announced the closure of the office on October 15, 2014.  If you are concerned about the sad state of freedom in Egypt, then you should take a few moments to read the Carter Center's announcement. You will find it here.
"The current environment in Egypt is not conducive to genuine democratic elections and civic participation," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. "I hope that Egyptian authorities will reverse recent steps that limit the rights of association and assembly and restrict operations of Egyptian civil society groups."
Former President Jimmy Carter's statement summarizes the situation, but the announcement goes into detail concerning the restrictions on assembly, NGO activities, and the impediments to election monitoring are illuminating.

Reading the Carter announcement against the background of Field Marshal al-Sisi's ascent to power, including the August 2013 massacre at Rab'a al-Adawiya, one comes to grips with the fact that the actions of the new dictatorship has been relentless, merciless and brutal.  Read the August 2014 Human Rights Watch report (العربية) for details about what happened in the Summer of 2013.  Also see my earlier post.

The U.S., represented by Secretary of State Kerry, has been making nice with now-President al-Sisi. In this instance, the New York Times has the right advice, namely that Kerry should certainly not certify that Egypt is on the path to democracy.  This certification is a Congressional precondition for the continuation of military aid.