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.
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.
Last year was a record breaker for defence sales and the Middle East was the largest importing region. France and Russia have stepped in where the US has stepped back.
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.
Are attitudes changing in Rabat? Over the last six months, Morocco has fallen out with Europe, the United Nations and the United States. Will Paris abandon its North Africa protégé?
Egypt’s economy is on life support from the Gulf. Economists urge a currency devaluation but fears of inflation provoking social unrest prevent a change in policy.
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.
Yesterday’s post noted progress made against IS in Fallujah, and referred to urgent UN appeals for humanitarian assistance to Iraqis. In northern Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has made a similar call, requesting international aid for those fleeing the fighting with IS in Manbij.
Many of the individual targets may prove overambitious and key details, such as on tax plans, remain vague, but the level of transparency and accountability is a remarkable development.
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.