Egypt: volume turned down

Posted on Tags

Speaking at a military/police seminar on 1 October the army chief General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi said that the transitional phase to elections should be speeded up to restore stability; continuing reports that he will stand for president are continually denied. The EU foreign policy high representative Catherine Ashton, the only major political figure who has visited Mursi …

Syria: wrangling, fighting – and chemical weapons

Posted on Tags

As the international context of the Syrian civil war changes dramatically, with work on the ground on eliminating chemical weapons due to start today 1 October and the prospect of a Geneva II conference becoming firmer, the bloodshed continues. So does the political wrangling, perhaps at heightened level, with the Saudi Foreign Minister in …

Israel and America

Posted on Tags

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to meet President Obama in Washington today 30 September, three days after Obama's telephone conversation with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. Netanyahu has increasingly become personally identified with maintaining pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear programme, but has been unable to carry all his own cabinet with him, let …

Sudan: fuel price protests

Posted on Tags ,

Recent news from Sudan has mainly covered conflict in the border regions and with South Sudan, but in the last week there have been serious disturbances in Khartoum, triggered by cuts in fuel subsidies which the government has defended as necessary following the separation from South Sudan in 2011 in which Sudan lost 75% of its oil …

Libya: still shaky

Posted on Tags

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on 26 September (video at link)  the Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zaidan said that members of the former Qadhafi regime living in neighbouring states had been involved in criminal activities which threatened Libya’s security and stability. He called on those countries – interpreted by the Libyan media as Niger, …

Women in the economy – the Middle East and Saudi Arabia

Posted on Tags

A new World Bank report "Women, Business and the Law"  opens with the proposition that women perform 66% of the world's work, produce 50% of the food, but earn 10% of the income and own 1% of the property. In a worldwide survey which "focuses on gender differentiations …

Spotlight on Iran

Posted on Tags , ,

It has long been a commonplace that Arabists are said to see the Palestine problem as the magic key which could unlock the other problems of the Middle East region. Temporarily at any rate this central role seems to have passed to Iran. As Martin Chulov writes in the Guardian today 25 September "Hassan Rouhani’s overtures to the …

Turkey feels the impact

Posted on Tags

Turkey, like Lebanon and Jordan, has felt the direct impact of the Syrian civil war, including occasional exchanges of fire and a massive refugee problem. Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan has sided since the beginning of the crisis with the Sunni rebels and against his ex-ally, President Bashar al-Asad. He was one of the main supporters of American plans …

Egypt: mixed signals

Posted on Tags

Following the re-establishment last week of government control in Dalia, Minya province, which had been controlled by supporters of ex-President Mursi, security forces engaged armed groups in Kerdasa, Giza district, 10 miles from Cairo on 19 September, reportedly arresting 51 people and searching for 100 other suspects. Some of those arrested are accused of taking part in an …

Saudi Arabia: new policy questions

Posted on Tags ,

Following a meeting with the Saudi and Egyptian foreign ministers on 8 September John Kerry said that Saudi Arabia had specifically agreed to support a "strike" against the Syrian regime as part of an international military response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. On 13 September Prince Turki Al Faisal, former Saudi ambassador in London …