Libya: some progress

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The situation in Libya remains confused and uncertain, and much media comment oversimplifies or distorts by imposing categories drawn from elsewhere, for example implying a comparison between retired General Khalifa Haftar, self-styled commander of the Libyan national army, and Field Marshal Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi. As preparations for the election of a new assembly develop, the Supreme Court, …

ISIL takes Mosul

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First we thank British former foreign service officer David Handley for a comment on our posting yesterday on Egypt:
I thought the 'scorecard' missed a couple of points. For those of us who lived and worked in Egypt under Mubarak, there has been an inevitability about the development of events there, an inevitability which predated the events in Tahrir …

Al-Sisi installed

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Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi was officially sworn in as Egypt’s president on 8 June. According to Ahram online he promised in his short speech to establish a strong, just, safe state. His presidency would be inclusive and he would listen to the “other”. He thanked Saudi Arabia for its support and called on other countries to participate in the donor’s conference called for last week by King Abdullah. He has reappointed Ibrahim Mahlab as caretaker Prime Minister and is expected to retain him and other key ministers including the …

Syria

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President Bashar al-Asad was re-elected as president on 3 June with an overwhelming majority, to no one's surprise. According to a report in Al Jazeera Fawas Gerges, a Middle East expert based in London, called the election win a "culmination of Assad's accumulated victories" since his opponents took up weapons against his regime in 2011.
"The opposition does not …

Yemen

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At least eight soldiers and six government-allied tribesmen were killed on 5 June in an attack presumed to be by al-Qa’ida in Bayhan, Shabwa province, central . According to Al Jazeera "The assault came hours after a drone strike killed three al-Qaeda suspects late on Wednesday as they were travelling in a vehicle in the Wadi Abida area, …

Lebanon: political stalemate, financial consequences

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Lebanon continues to be "reeling under the weight of the war in Syria", in the words of a report in the Beirut Daily Star. Since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term expired on 25 May Lebanon has been without a president. Both the Maronite Christian community, from which the president must come under the "national pact", Lebanon's …

Kuwait: external

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The Amir of Kuwait visited Tehran on 1 and 2 June, the first such visit since the Iranian revolution in 1979, and the second Gulf ruler to visit since the election of President Hassan Rouhani following Sultan Qaboos of Oman last August. On 3 and 4 June the Kuwaiti Prime Minister visited China where he met President Xi Jinping. …

Unified Palestine, Israel and America

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The reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas has so far gone more smoothly than expected. A unity government was sworn in on 2 June, and the UN, US, EU, Russia and China have agreed to work with it. President Mahmud Abbas said new elections would be held within six months. According to an International New York Times …

Libya: in the balance

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Reuters reports at least 20 killed and dozens wounded in Benghazi and al-Marj in Eastern Libya on 2 June where helicopters supported forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar against Islamist militants. In Tripoli the new Prime Minister Ahmad Maiteeq (who allegedly has Muslim Brotherhood support) held his first cabinet meeting on 2 June; according …

Immigration

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has been high on the agenda of European/North Africa relations for many years. The main problem now is that migrants not only from Africa but also from remoter areas such as Syria, Afghanistan and South Asia seek to enter Europe through Libya and other North African countries whose borders can not be effectively policed. The flow of migrants is not to the benefit of the transit countries, and to varying degrees they have attempted to cooperate politically with Europe and to benefit from European naval, military and technical help …