Egypt and the EU

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Ramadan saw a lull in political activity in Egypt, the result of the ongoing crackdown on civil society and the easing of demands by western powers to create an inclusive, free society.

Ramadan Kareem!

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A season for piety and charity as well as abstinence: some men grow beards, some adopt traditional clothing, some will make a special effort to give food to the poor and many Sunnis pray additional night-time prayers called taraweeh.

Iran: opportunity and risk

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The lifting of most UN and EU sanctions has ended years of economic isolation for Iran. It unleashed a tidal wave of renewed interest in the country from large European and Asian multinationals. Seeking to exploit the country’s largely untapped oil and gas reserves and vast consumer markets, a number of these firms have already re-entered Iran.

Saudi/US: A broader relationship?

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Although we last wrote on Saudi/US relations as recently as 2 June, three unrelated news stories this week call for an update. First, and bearing directly on one of the key irritants in the relationship which we flagged on 2 June, CIA chief John Brennan has said that he expects the 28 classified pages of the Congressional report into the 11 September 2001 attacks to absolve Saudi Arabia totally.

The fifth anniversary of the January 25th revolution

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The anniversary passed quietly in Egypt following a renewed security crackdown. Religious clerics, newly elected parliamentarians, state-appointed trade union leaders, mainstream media figures and even the meteorological authorities came out to warn about the dangers of going on to the streets.