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 …

Algeria: the outlook

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Note: in our posting yesterday 17 July we referred to a report in Ha'aretz that the European Union has issued a directive banning financial support to the occupied territories; this report has now been confirmed though details have not yet been published – see for example Reuters at http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/07/16/us-israel-settlements-eu-idUKBRE96F0OM20130716 . Algeria As foreshadowed in our posting of 8 July the Algerian …

Saudi Arabia: external

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The revolutionary developments in Egypt and the civil war in Syria have obliged Saudi Arabia to take a more forward position in foreign policy than it has traditionally chosen. It was uncomfortable with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and has welcomed the military intervention against him. In Syria, despite a historically close relationship with the …

Sinai

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The peninsula, largely desert and containing areas of impassable mountains, separates Egypt of the Nile Valley from the countries of the Levant. It is Egyptian territory and has a population of about half a million, largely Bedouin tribes. On the eastern side it borders Israel and Gaza. The southern part of the peninsula, physically divided by desert and mountains from the North, has become a major tourist destination containing both biblical Mount and Saint Catherine’s monastery and the seaside resorts around Sharm al-Shaikh. Northern has long been an …

The Arab spring: what next?

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Developments in Egypt have driven even Syria off the headlines, but it is clear that the major changes throughout the Middle East which began in Tunisia in 2011 are still working themselves out. Below are three attempts to take a broader view. The first by Max Rodenbeck Cairo-based chief Middle East correspondent of the Economist attempts a comprehensive survey and concludes that the current feeling that the scorecard looks overwhelmingly negative is only the end of the beginning. The second published on the London Review of …

Egypt: The impact

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The struggle for power in Egypt continues, with rival mass rallies planned today 12 July, probably continuing in the evening following the iftar (sunset meal to break the Ramadan fast). The government installed by the army under President Adli Mansur and Prime Minister Hisham al-Beblawi has continued to accuse the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood of responsibility for …

Morocco

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Istiqlal (independence), the second largest party in the governing coalition led by the moderate Islamist PJD, has announced its withdrawal. It did so previously in May but was apparently persuaded by the King to remain in the government. The main reason appears to be the government's intention to tackle the politically explosive issue of reducing subsidies beginning at the end …

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 …