Syria: digging in

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Reuters reports that "Syrian troops drove insurgents from a central district of Homs on [29 July], tightening their siege on remaining rebel bastions in the city, which links Damascus to the Mediterranean heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect. The military's gains in Khalidiya district follow a counter-offensive by Assad's forces, which have pushed back rebels around the …

Egypt: slipping under?

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The deaths of scores of protesters in Cairo on 27 July (65 according to the government, over 100 according to most estimates) have raised the crisis to a new level. As we write (morning of 28 July) the confrontation in the streets is not over. According to a comment by Conflicts Forum circulated before the news of …

Kuwait: elections again

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With all its weaknesses, the Kuwaiti parliamentary system is the most democratic in the Arab Gulf monarchies. Parliament can pass legislation and interrogate ministers, but parliaments have repeatedly been dissolved after challenging governments. The election today 27 July follows a court decision that the election in December 2012 was legally flawed. This election like the one in December …

Palestine: blood, sweat and Indyk

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One week after the announcement by John Kerry that Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni "will be joining me in Washington to begin initial talks within the next week or so" neither appears to have commented. The Israeli Minister of energy and water Silvan Shalom said on 25 July "As I understand, today, I think that the …

Hizbullah: tiling the sea

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Our posting of 11 June outlined the formation of Hizbullah in the early 1980s to resist the Israeli occupation and the two roles it now claims, championing the Shia in Lebanese politics and defending Lebanon against Israeli aggression. It plays its part in the Lebanese Parliament and in national politics, and is giving military support to the …

Egypt: the wider picture

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The rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt will have wider repercussions in the Arab world and its relations with America and other outside powers. Commentators in the Arab media are having a field day propagating theories and conspiracy theories. The first article below by James Dorsey of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore considers the …

Kerry announces talks

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The US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on 19 July as he concluded his sixth quickfire visit to the region that “we have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis…If everything goes as expected, Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni, Minister Livni, and Isaac Molho [an Israeli lawyer, Netanyahu’s envoy for peace talks] will be joining me in Washington to begin initial talks within the next week or so”. This follows a three-year period during which …

Jordan: the impact of Egypt

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Well over half a million refugees from Syria are placing an enormous burden on Jordan’s resources. This follows the impact of refugees from Iraq after the 2003 invasion, reportedly about three quarters of a million (Jordan’s population is just over 6 million). Events in Egypt have had no such physical impact, but the political impact …

Tunisia

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has been experiencing relative calm following the dramatic events of the Arab spring; as usual news in the English-language media is sparse. According to a report on the live website the National Constituent Assembly was set to select the members of the country’s election oversight board on 19 July, to begin preparations for new polls immediately, despite the fact …

Egypt: a historic turning point?

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Events in Egypt in the last few weeks have divided opinion both in Egypt and internationally and are likely to continue to divide it for a long time. On the one side the narrative is of a democratically elected government overthrown by a military coup with considerable bloodshed, on the other it is of an incompetent …