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 …


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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 …


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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 …


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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 …


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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 …