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 …

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 …