Afghanistan: end game interrupted?

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Since our posting of 3 July fighting between NATO forces and the Taliban has continued and the Taliban office in Doha has been closed. On 8 July the New York Times reported that a videoconference between Presidents Obama and Karzai designed to defuse tension ended badly with Karzai accusing the US of trying to negotiate a separate peace with both the Taliban and their backers in Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan exposed to its enemies. Obama was said to be giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of US …

Yemen

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Violent incidents continue in all parts of , including attacks attributed to al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and killings by US drones. According to various reports a bomb killed three soldiers in Sana’a on 6 July, the main oil export pipeline was blown up on 7 July (the second attack in a week), a colonel was killed on 8 …

Algeria: changing the pilot

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Reuters reports today 8 July that the Algerian President Abd al-Aziz Bouteflika, who was rushed to hospital in France after a stroke in April, is expected to return to Algeria "in the coming hours". Bouteflika is 76 and first held high office as Foreign Minister in 1963. According to a Twitter message from al-Qa’ida in the …

Gulf states: a crackdown?

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There have been a number of recent trials and arrests on political/security charges in the Gulf monarchies. In addition to the UAE and Saudi examples detailed below they reportedly include the sentencing of a 17-year-old boy in Bahrain to one year's imprisonment for insulting the King on Twitter and the arrest and detention without charge in the UAE of …

Egypt – the wheel turns

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Some for the glories of this world; and some Sigh for the Prophet’s paradise to come; Ah, take the cash, and let the promise go, nor heed the rumble of a distant drum! Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translation Edward Fitzgerald Following the demonstrations by millions throughout Egypt against the government the army intervened decisively. The senior constitutional court judge …

Egypt

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President Muhammad Mursi has appointed a number of Islamists as regional governors; of 16 new appointments seven are reported to be from the Muslim Brotherhood and six from the army or police. The Minister of Tourism has said he will resign in protest at the appointment of Adil Khayat as Governor of Luxor, a major tourist destination; Khayat is a …

Kuwait

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In the latest development in the struggle between Parliament and government in , unique in the Gulf monarchies, the Constitutional Court has again ordered Parliament to be dissolved and fresh elections to be held. A decision on the date for elections is expected imminently, and is urgently needed to end a period of political uncertainty. The Fitch rating agency …

Arab youth in the Arab spring

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The British Council and the John D. Gerhart Center at the American University in Cairo have jointly produced a report on young people in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia after the revolutions (http://www.britishcouncil.org/d084_therevolutionarypromise_report_v4-3.pdf ). Even the executive summary is too long for circulation here; interested readers who have not time to read the full report are advised to turn first to the recommendations. We circulate below the Foreword and an article commenting on the report by Rami Khouri of the Beirut Daily Star who …

Iran

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Hassan Rohani was the unexpected winner of the ian presidential election on 15 June. Regarded as the only moderate candidate he won 50.71% of the vote on a 72.2% turnout. His appointment has been cautiously welcomed in Washington, Moscow, the Arab world (where congratulations from Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states went slightly beyond routine protocol) and by President …