Skip to main content

Home/ International Politics of the Middle East/ Group items tagged Arab Spring

Rss Feed Group items tagged

Ed Webb

Has Erdogan given up rapprochement with Arabs? - 0 views

  • the lack of trust for Arabs among Turkey’s intellectuals and the rest of the public is based on historical developments. According to the Turkish Historical Society, in 1916, Sheriff of Mecca Hussein bin Ali subscribed to the British promise of independence, rose against the Ottomans and became an instrument of dividing the Ottoman empire among Christian states. This “Arab betrayal” has left a scar in Turkish minds.
  • renowned historian Ilber Ortayli, who said, “Palestine, which rose against the Ottomans and betrayed them, today is paying for this betrayal with its life and property.”
  • AKP came to power in 2003 and adopted a policy of rapprochement with Arabs
  • ...5 more annotations...
  • “Oh Arab League! Today 3,650,000 Arabs are our guests. Why don’t you see this? Why did they escape? They fled the Syrian barrel bombs. We are acting as their brothers. Did you spend a single penny for these people? Now you are making haphazard decisions about Turkey. So what if you do?”
  • the 22-member Arab League debated Turkey’s incursion into Syria and condemned Turkey for it, much to Ankara's disappointment.
  • “The Arab League, which didn’t raise its voice while Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens suffered the cruelties of terror, is disturbed by our struggle against terror. The Arab League’s condemnation of Turkey means supporting terror.”
  • Reactions in Turkey now show that 17 years of effort to create a new Arab image have failed. One indication is the angry reactions to Arab-language signs all over the country. Turkey's central Anatolian province of Eskisehir began efforts to use only Turkish in all sign boards, advertisements, noting that the public's aversion to Arabic signs has grown in response to Arab states' opposition to Turkey over its Syria operation.
  • the “Arabs are our brothers” thesis has been abandoned.
Michael Fisher

Arab Spring and the Israeli enemy | ArabNews - 0 views

  • The common thing among all what I saw is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the Arab world?The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized. The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list. The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people. These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.
  •  
    A surprising tone to come out of Saudi Arabia, the writer argues that the Arab conflict with Israel has served to distract Arabs of their real problems--the dictators at home.
Ed Webb

The Death of the Palestinian Cause Has Been Greatly Exaggerated | Newlines Magazine - 1 views

  • For the last 10 years, Western (and even Arab) pundits have repeatedly questioned the place of Palestine in the pan-Arab psyche. They surmised that the Arab Spring had refocused Arab minds on their problems at home. They assumed that battling tyrannical regimes and their security apparatuses, reforming corrupt polities and decrepit health care and education systems, combating terrorism and religious extremism, whittling back the power of the military, and overcoming economic challenges like corruption and unemployment would take precedence over an unsolved and apparently unsolvable cause.
  • reforming the Arab world’s political systems and the security and patronage networks that keep them in power and allow them to dominate their populations appears to be just as arduous a task as resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • The difference now is not that Arab populaces have abandoned Palestine. Western and regional observers say the muted outrage over affronts like American support for the annexation of the Golan Heights or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, or even the Abraham Accords and the subsequent sycophantic embrace of Israel in the Gulf is an indicator of Arab public opinion, that it signals a loss of interest in the cause.It is not. Arabs are of course not of a single mind on any particular issue, nor is it possible to gauge public opinion under tyrannical regimes. But it is indicative of the fact that these authoritarians no longer see the pan-Arab Palestinian cause and supporting it as vital to their survival. They have discovered that inward-looking, nationalistic pride is the key to enduring in perpetuity. It is the final step in the dismantling of pan-Arabism as a political force, one that will shape the region’s fortunes and its states’ alliances in the years and decades to come.
  • ...10 more annotations...
  • Nowhere is this shift in attitude more abjectly transparent than in the Gulf states’ media outlets, which hew closely to the state line and even go beyond it in an attempt to out-hawk official policy, which by comparison appears reasonable and measured.
  • few Arab leaders have ever actually done anything for the Palestinians beyond rhetorical support for the cause, but they were happy to use the prospect of Palestine to keep their populations in check. The late former President Hafez al-Assad imposed a multi-decade state of emergency and mobilization to justify his tyrannical hold over Syria while awaiting the mother of all battles with the enemy, all without firing a single shot across the border since 1973. The leader of the beating heart of Arabism intervened in Lebanon’s civil war and had no qualms massacring pan-Arab nationalists and their Palestinian allies, or to recruit his Amal militia allies to starve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. His son and successor, President Bashar al-Assad, negotiated with Israel via intermediaries, ready to sell out his allies in Iran and Hezbollah, even as he declared his fealty to the resistance.
  • Jordan violently suppressed demonstrators protesting the attacks on Gaza, who apparently did not receive the memo that 27 years should have been enough time to accept Israel’s position on the conflict. In Egypt, despite its testy relationship with Hamas and its participation in the blockade of Gaza, it is still political and social suicide to publicly embrace normalization as a concept.
  • There was great presumption and folly in the grandiose naming of a convenient political deal between unelected monarchs and a premier accused of bribery and corruption, which was brokered by an American president who paid hush money to a porn star, after the patriarch of the prophets of Israel and Islam.
  • an obvious and transparent outgrowth of the Gulf states’ normalization deals with Israel, though it is curious to me why they feel the need to amplify Israel’s narrative of the conflict if they did not think public opinion was already on the side of normalization
  • The Gulf states have long had backchannels and secret dealings with the Israelis and developed a penchant for Israeli digital surveillance tools. Egypt needed Israel to destroy extremist militants in Sinai. And Morocco, Oman, and Qatar all had different levels of diplomatic ties.
  • We don’t know broadly whether a majority of Arabs care about Palestine or not, though every indicator points to the fact that they still do
  • Riyadh’s media outlets have taken on a prominent role in expressing public sympathy for Israel and its positions
  • In Saudi Arabia, a monumental shift is underway to neuter the power of the clerical establishment in favor of a more nationalistic vision of progress that gives primacy to Saudi identity. According to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, in a recent interview, this identity derives from religious heritage but also from cultural and historic traditions. MBS has defanged the hated Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, introduced social reforms that dismantle some of the restrictions on women, detained numerous clerics who criticized his policies, both foreign and domestic, and has been elevated by his surrogates into an almost messianic figure sent to renew the faith and empower Saudi identity through KPI-infused economic progress initiatives like Vision 2030. He has also, of course, arrested those who sought to pursue activism and reform and those who criticized the pace and manner of his revolution.
  • where nationalist pride is intermingled with the quality of life and performance metrics of a technocratic capitalist state, albeit one where the reins are held by only a handful of families
Ed Webb

Opinion: Tunisia, A Gulf Crisis Battleground | The North Africa Journal - 0 views

  • Since the Arab Spring uprisings shook the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2010/2011, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members have sought to be drivers of political developments in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia—and, to lesser extents, Algeria and Morocco—not only through petrodollar diplomacy, but also through direct military intervention
  • The three-year-old GCC crisis—pitting Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt against Qatar since mid-2017—has significantly regionalized
  • By far, the Gulf crisis has played out more destructively in Libya than anywhere else in the Maghreb. Yet Tunisia is a salient example of how another North African country became an arena for the Gulf rivalry albeit one where far less violence has erupted
  • ...20 more annotations...
  • From the beginning of the Arabian feud, officials in Tunis stressed their preference for not picking sides while also offering to help with diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the crisis.
  • Qatar gave Tunisia critical financial support in 2012 that helped the government in Tunis maintain domestic stability amid a sensitive period of time following the Jasmine Revolution. While under growing International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressure after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s fall, Tunisia received USD 500 million from the Qatari National Bank
  • Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Arab Spring protests that shook Tunisia in 2010/2011 secured some greater soft-power influence for Qatar among Tunisian revolutionaries
  • Those leading Ennahda had ties to Doha dating back to the 1990s when Qatar was beginning its escape from the Saudi-led, counter-revolutionary order of the Arabian Peninsula
  • Emirati press often reports on the politics of post-Arab Spring Tunisia in ways that depict the country as having fallen under too much influence of Islamists, who are by definition “terrorists” as Abu Dhabi sees it
  • After Nidaa Tounes took power in 2015, the UAE’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan paid his first visit to Tunisia since 2011. While in Tunis, he met with then-President Beji Caid Essebsi, who founded Nidaa Tounes, and he invited him to the Emirates. Essebsi also paid Egypt’s president a visit in October 2015 and invited Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Tunis. According to Emirati calculations, these developments were supposed to weaken Doha-Tunis relations. By opening up more channels of communication with Ennahda’s domestic opponents, Abu Dhabi wanted to bring Tunisia’s regional foreign policy into closer alignment with the Emirates, and further away from the Qatari-Turkish axis.
  • Just as the Qataris helped Tunisia maintain its stability during the aftermath of its 2010/2011 revolution, the Tunisians paid them back in terms of assistance in the domain of food security after the Saudi- and Emirati-imposed siege began.
  • Qatar is the top Arab investor in Tunisia
  • Certain segments of the population saw Doha’s agenda as geared toward supporting political Islam, not democratic revolutions in the Arab region. Such perceptions of Doha pushing Tunisia under the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence created problems for Qatar among many Tunisians who oppose Islamism.
  • leaders in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh have seen the Jasmine Revolution as a threat to their model of “authoritarian stability” which entails support for Arab dictators such as Ben Ali. Both the Saudi and Emirati governments have major concerns about any country in the Maghreb holding free elections that open up the possibility of Islamists being empowered to govern. Furthermore, the growth of Qatari influence in Tunisia following Ben Ali’s fall has irked both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh
  • From 2011 to 2019, Doha’s exports to Tunisia doubled six times while Tunisian exports to Qatar doubled ten times. Qatar and Tunisia’s growing relationship has manifested in the signing of 80 agreements across a range of areas
  • One of the reasons why the UAE has more influence in Tunisia than the Saudis pertains to the Emiratis’ culture and ethos of trade and commerce which Tunisian businessmen easily understand and appreciate.
  • To this point, the majority of Tunisians are indifferent to the ideological underpinnings of the Gulf feud and simply want as much investment from as many Gulf and non-Gulf states as possible. The percentage of Tunisians who are staunchly ‘pro-Qatar’ or ‘pro-UAE’ is below 50, yet their percentage is increasing which underscores how the GCC crisis’ impact on Tunisia has been polarizing
  • Many of these citizens who staunchly welcomed the Jasmine Revolution see Abu Dhabi as a counter-revolutionary force seeking to topple Tunisia’s democratic government. A common narrative is that the Emiratis would like to do to Tunisia what they did to Egypt in 2013 in terms of bankrolling a coup d’état to reverse an Arab Spring revolution.
  • The UAE’s hand in Tunisia is certainly weaker than it is in Egypt or Libya. Tunisia lacks a military or “Deep State” that the Emiratis would be able to coordinate with to stage a popular coup d’état in which the putschists could enjoy a degree of legitimacy among Tunisians comparable to what the Egyptian junta enjoyed among ordinary Egyptians in 2013
  • Ennahda was more humble, moderate, and modest during its time at the helm compared to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egyptian political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). As a result, Ennahda left Tunisians, including those who oppose political Islam, with less reason to favor a coup d’état to end the Islamist party’s role in the country system of governance.
  • UAE seems more set on preventing Tunisia from being pushed into the Qatari-Turkish axis’s orbit, particularly with respect to the conflict in Libya. Ironically, as Hamdi posits, Tunisia’s non-aligned politics vis-à-vis Libya’s civil war, which the UAE seems to accept, “is in line with Tunisian public opinion which predominantly [favors Tunisian] neutrality and a political solution and view Turkey’s military intervention with much suspicion.”
  • there are signs that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are frustrated with Tunisia’s view of the UN-recognized GNA as legitimate and Tunis’s opposition to foreign (including Emirati, Egyptian, and Russian) intervention in the conflict
  • Among secular Tunisians from elite backgrounds, there is a common narrative that Doha has been sponsoring terrorism and radicalism in their country. This message is in lock-step alignment with Abu Dhabi’s narratives about Qatar being a dangerous power in the Arab region. In fact, some opponents of Ennahda have even accused the party of covering for Qatar’s alleged role as a driver of terrorism in post-Ben Ali Tunisia and wished that Tunis would have supported the blockade of Doha in 2017
  • that Nidaa Tounes and Ennahda reached a political compromise has helped Tunisia achieve significant political stability and peace despite all the chaos in the region. Experts agree that this landmark “secularist-Islamist rapprochement” could have been severely undermined by Tunis picking sides in the GCC dispute
Ed Webb

The Qatar Blockade Is Over, but the Gulf Crisis Lives On - 0 views

  • Officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar sought to end their rancorous three-and-a-half-year dispute over Qatar’s drift toward Iran and restore much-needed cohesion to the GCC, which also includes Kuwait and Oman. The GCC summit was a resounding success. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt lifted their blockade on Qatar and restored diplomatic relations with the country. Qatar also suspended its World Trade Organization case against the UAE’s economic isolation efforts.
  • the Gulf crisis is far from over. The reconciliation at the GCC summit was triggered by fatigue from the blockade and by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s desire to rebrand his tarnished image with the new U.S. administration
  • focus on symbolism over substance at the GCC summit bodes poorly for the organization’s long-term cohesion
  • ...12 more annotations...
  • Mistrust between Qatar and the blockading states, an ongoing rivalry between the UAE and Qatar, sharp divergences in policy toward Iran and Turkey, and geostrategic contestation in Africa could reheat the Gulf crisis in the near future
  • the recent blockade’s impacts were felt at both the elite and popular level. Hardships, such as the separation of mixed-citizenship Saudi-Qatari couples, created lasting societal rifts. Saudi and Emirati state-aligned media outlets relentlessly promoted the narrative that Qatar was a state sponsor of terrorism, while Qatari media outlets equated the UAE’s religious tolerance policies with support for idolatry. In turn, Saudi, Emirati, and Qatari publics have increasingly come to view each other as adversaries rather than as neighbors or friends
  • The ongoing rivalry between the UAE and Qatar could derail any normalization in the Gulf. Since the 2011 Arab Spring protests, the UAE and Qatar have advanced competing visions for the region’s future. The UAE has condemned Islamist civil society movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and, with few exceptions, has supported the forces of counterrevolution against those of political pluralism. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain align with the UAE. Qatar enthusiastically supported the post-Arab Spring Muslim Brotherhood governments in Tunisia and Egypt and continues to encourage popular unrest in the Middle East. Turkey is the principal backer of Qatar’s vision
  • The GCC remains divided especially on Iran and Turkey, which will impede intra-bloc cooperation on security issues
  • the GCC will remain bifurcated on Iran policy between a pro-engagement bloc consisting of Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait and a pro-isolation coalition comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain
  • Due to Turkey’s operation of a military base in Qatar and Doha’s standing as the second largest foreign investor in the Turkish economy, the Turkey-Qatar strategic partnership will only tighten in the post-crisis period. Qatar’s alignment with Turkey is a source of friction with the UAE.
  • the GCC could respond incoherently to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s escalations in the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Although countries that balance positive relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, such as Pakistan and Malaysia, benefit from the GCC’s reconciliation, the UAE-Qatar rivalry in Africa remains an unresolved source of friction. The UAE wishes to counter Qatar’s influence in Tunisia, which has grown due to large-scale Qatari investment in the Tunisian economy and Qatar-Tunisia diplomatic cooperation in Libya. Qatar has similarly capitalized on UAE-Algeria frictions, which were triggered by Abu Dhabi’s concerns about strengthening Turkey-Algeria relations and Algeria’s opposition to the UAE’s normalization with Israel.
  • The UAE and Qatar also vie for influence in Somalia. The UAE has close relations with the self-declared state of Somaliland, and Qatar aligns with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s government
  • The United States should not view the GCC as a united security bloc. Regional strategies that depend on Gulf unity, such as the Middle East Strategic Alliance, should be shelved. U.S. officials should also carefully vet large-scale arms transfers to GCC countries, such as former President Donald Trump’s $23 billion arms deal with the UAE. These contracts could trigger reciprocal arms buildups that revive the Gulf crisis
  • the new state of cold peace on the Arabian Peninsula can benefit U.S. interests
  • As Qatar has returned to the GCC fold, it could act as a moderating influence on Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s opposition to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Biden seeks to revive
Ed Webb

BBC News - Arab Spring revolution at the Arab League - 0 views

  • one of the standard-bearers of Arab nationalism, the Syrian Arab Republic, is now excluded from the body committed to Arab unity. Members of the Syrian opposition - just the sort of activists whom the Arab League members happily ignored or repressed for years - are being invited to Arab League headquarters, for the League to help them co-ordinate their efforts.
  • Qatar is taking advantage of the turmoil in the region to seize its moment of leadership.
  • For years commentators said the League could not agree to act because it was so divided. Now, in theory, it should be all the more divided between democracies and Arab autocracies. Yet, remarkably, in recent months it has taken two of the most decisive moves in its 66 years of history.
Ed Webb

Ten Years After the Arab Spring, Tyranny Lingers On | Newlines Magazine - 0 views

  • The initial impulse behind the uprisings, the very impulse that led Bouazizi to self-immolation, lay in the fact that humiliated peoples, suffering from economic dislocation, political repression, and denial of basic human rights had grown impatient with their status as subjects and had risen, demanding their rights as citizens. Wealth redistribution, social justice, and good governance were as equal for those demonstrating en masse as regaining their lost karama — their dignity
  • Most of the political and intellectual debates that animated the early stages of the uprisings had their roots in the reformist movements and the intellectual ferments and the drive to modernize Arab societies that began in the first half of the 19th century
  • a stagnant economy remains the greatest threat to Tunisia’s stability and a major source of Tunisians’ discontent. Tunisia’s robust civil society made it possible, even during periods of political and security tensions, to conduct executive, legislative, and municipal elections democratically, although elected officials still display some of the discredited habits of the ancien régime. Ennahda, the main Islamist movement, proved adept at political transformation when its founder Rachid Ghannouchi declared the moderate Islamist party was abandoning political Islam. Ten years on, Tunisians are openly critical of their government’s failure to address their economic needs, forcing the youth either to immigrate to Europe or to join radical Islamists abroad. Ten years after Mohamed Bouazizi’s fiery end, disillusionment is the national mood.
  • ...7 more annotations...
  • the repressive regimes shared one thing in common: All reacted with brute force to peaceful calls for empowerment and accountability.
  • Some of them, particularly those ruling heterogeneous states, brazenly weaponized religion, regionalism, sectarianism, and tribal and ethnic cleavages in their societies to divide and crush the uprisings
  • The Arab uprisings began as spontaneous protest movements led first by middle-class students and professionals who were then joined by workers and other social groups. The Islamists, skeptical at first, joined later. In a political landscape bereft of organized liberal and secular mass movements or political parties, with only defunct old Arab nationalists and leftists, it was a question of time before the Islamists would control the political square and hijack the uprisings.
  • The political, social, and cultural maladies afflicting Arab societies that were supposed to be swept away by the young activists have proven to be immovable
  • That does not mean that the spirit and the yearning for empowerment that animated the early phase of the uprisings have been irrevocably defeated. In recent years we have seen the populations in majority Arab states like Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, and Lebanon erupt in fury over their ossified, repressive, and venal regimes. In Sudan, the protests forced the military to oust Omar al-Bashir, their tormentor for 30 years. In Algeria, the mass protest forced the stagnant regime to end the 20-year reign of the ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. In both countries we have seen a glimpse of the hope and enthusiasm that animated those who went to the streets in 2011. So far the positive changes in Sudan and Algeria are not fundamental, but at least the protests have shaken two stagnant and moribund regimes.
  • The protests that rocked Iraq and Lebanon in 2019 also brought to the fore a new, emergent reality. Despite or partly because of the uprisings, the Middle East is less Arab today than at any time in a century. Iran is the dominant force in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. Israel owns the skies over Syria, while Iran, Turkey, and Russia carve up zones of control and influence on the ground. In Iraq, Turkey has established military bases, and Iran pulls the strings of many militias. In Libya, Russia and Turkey continue to play their cynical proxy wars. In this “wounded time” many Arabs are living in the shadows of their more powerful neighbors.
  • The uprisings faced not only entrenched ruling classes but also deep-rooted patriarchy and religious and cultural traditions that are not amenable to swift and significant social and cultural change.
Ed Webb

The dwindling promise of popular uprisings in the Middle East - 0 views

  • The scenes emerging from Iran today elicit a mix of reactions across a region still reeling from the dark legacy of the “Arab Spring,” which itself came on the heels of the “Green Movement” protests in the wake of Iran’s 2009 presidential election. Many Arabs cannot help but recall the sense of hope that reverberated from Tunisia to Yemen, only to be shattered by unyielding repression, war, and the resurgence of authoritarianism. Subsequent protest waves, including those that began in 2019 in Lebanon, Iraq, and Sudan, were similarly met with brutality, co-optation, and dissolution.
  • Over a decade on from the Arab uprisings, the path toward democracy and freedom for youth across the Middle East has become more treacherous than ever, as liberation movements find themselves fighting against stronger, smarter, and more entrenched regimes that have adapted to modern challenges to their domination.
  • Technologies that many hoped would help to evade state censorship and facilitate mobilization have been co-opted as repressive surveillance tools.
  • ...11 more annotations...
  • many of the region’s youth have become immobilized by revolutionary fatigue left by the tragic, violent trauma of the Arab Spring’s aftermath
  • Breakthroughs in surveillance methods are allowing intelligence outfits across the Middle East to infiltrate just about every crevice of civil society, making it almost impossible to communicate or organize without the government’s knowledge. Some of the most sinister of these weapons have been manufactured in Israel, which has emerged as a leading global exporter of surveillance technologies that are now being deployed against oppressed populations worldwide.
  • The prospect of acquiring dystopian surveillance tech like Pegasus has become a driving motive for authoritarian Arab leaders in their rush to normalize relations with Israel, against the will of their people
  • While arming themselves with the latest repressive tools, autocratic regimes across the Middle East continue to be encouraged by their external benefactors to prioritize security and foreign interests at the expense of democracy and human rights at home
  • with the United States declining as a global hegemon, authoritarians are selling their allegiances to the highest bidder, with human rights, democracy, and accountability falling further by the wayside.
  • Since 2011, Russia has doubled down on its support for some of the most brutal regimes in the region.
  • About 60 percent of the region’s population are under 25 years old, and the dire socio-political and economic conditions that much of the Middle East’s youth face have changed little since the thwarted revolutions of 2011. Youth unemployment has, in fact, worsened over the past decade, increasing from 23.8 percent in 2010 to 27.2 percent in 2020. The lack of opportunities continues to fuel brain drains and mass migration across the region.
  • dictators driven by paranoia have continued to hollow out civil society, ensuring that no viable political alternative to their rule exists. Press freedom across the region has declined drastically; Egypt, for example, has become one of the world’s top jailers of journalists since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in a military coup in 2013. In Tunisia, President Kais Saied has undone many of the country’s democratic advances by dissolving the government and enhancing his powers through a new constitution.
  • This aggressive trend has intensified in Palestine, too. Following the 2021 Unity Intifada, Israeli forces arrested hundreds of political activists and are now stepping up efforts to target civil society and human rights groups that expose Israeli war crimes and rights violations. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has entrenched its role as a subcontractor of the Israeli occupation, stepping up arrests of political activists and resistance fighters alike across the West Bank at Israel’s behest.
  • A recent study by The Guardian and YouGov found that although a majority of respondents in Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, and Egypt do not regret the uprisings, more than half of those polled in Syria, Yemen, and Libya say their lives are now worse
  • By shutting down spaces for Iranians to realize their imagined future, Iran’s leaders have ensured that any substantial transfer of power will be violent
Ed Webb

What Does Jordan's Bid for GCC Membership Imply for the Arab Spring? | International Ne... - 0 views

  • After the upheavals following the Arab Spring and the resulting challenges to the existing regimes, the GCC may be in the process of reinventing itself and morphing into an alliance with a security bent intent on perpetuating the existing political status quo.
  • According to the pundits, the benefits to Jordan from joining the alliance are primarily economic.  Jordanian officials are touting the benefits of job opportunities for Jordanians; the opening of markets in the Gulf for Jordanian products; increase in aid; and easing of investment regulations. The problem is that the Gulf already attracts the best and brightest of the Jordanian labor force to the detriment of business development in Jordan; Gulf markets are open for quality Jordanian products; Gulf tourists have open access to Jordan; Saudi Arabia is the largest donor to Jordan; GCC money is encouraged to flow into Jordan and every attempt is made to facilitate investments.  
  •  The cost to Jordan will be on the geo-strategic front.  Extending membership to Jordan may have been an attempt to forestall the spread of the Arab Spring and political reform in Jordan, and by implication for Jordan to stand as a bulwark or buffer zone against the spread of reform.  In addition, Jordan may be the source of military personnel to defended existing regimes.
Ed Webb

Arab countries' foreign policy ambitions could start hurting their economies - Business... - 1 views

  • There is a certain irony in the Arab Gulf states’ rising power across the Middle East and North Africa. International prestige, the ability to intervene militarily in regional conflict, and holding the same leverage as international financial institutions in aid and investment are what these states have long coveted. But now that they have the power – both economic and military – Gulf states like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are faced with the dilemma of demonstrating their dominance without destroying the neighbourhood.
  • Gulf states’ foreign policies are increasingly at odds with their economic interests
  • The economies of the Gulf states have changed dramatically since the beginning of the second oil boom, between 2003 and 2014. Joined together in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) trade bloc, they are more integrated into the regional and wider international economy in trade and investment flows
  • ...4 more annotations...
  • The GCC’s outward investments in equity markets, especially towards Europe and the US, means it is also more integrated globally. And it has large amounts of foreign direct investment in infrastructure, agriculture and real estate across the MENA region.
  • The strength of their economic influence in the region lies in huge flows of capital – often a mixture of remittances, foreign aid, and foreign direct investment under the auspices of state-related bodies. This has enabled the Gulf states to usurp international institutions in shaping economic reform across the MENA region, especially in Egypt and other oil importers.
  • Politically, however, the GCC is engaged in numerous interventions across the region that have caused significant disorder and pose a threat to their mutual economic prosperity. The Gulf states were successful in crushing the Arab Spring within their own countries and cementing their development agenda. By contrast, their interventions in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Egypt have stoked the chaos there, putting the stability of the region at risk.
  • In each of these interventions, there is an incumbent economic cost to the GCC states. The war in Yemen is probably the best example of a mounting military expenditure that will only be dwarfed by the cost of re-building Yemen, which surely the UAE and Saudi Arabia will have to help foot. The Gulf States would therefore be wise to start dovetailing their foreign policies with their economic interests by fostering stability instead of conflict.
Ed Webb

Will Biden Help Revive the Arab Spring, Starting with Tunisia? - 1 views

  • Saied’s so-called emergency measures remain in place, and the U.S. State Department said Wednesday that no further action has been taken. “We are monitoring and engaged,” a State Department spokesperson told Foreign Policy. Some activists and regional experts say more concrete forms of pressure from the United States are needed. They say preserving democracy in Tunisia will be a test of U.S. President Joe Biden’s central commitment to what he has called a “defining question of our time”—that is, “Can democracies come together to deliver real results for our people in a rapidly changing world?” 
  • Critics like Dunne say the administration has fallen seriously short of what Blinken, in a major March 3 speech, said would be a new U.S. policy to “incentivize democratic behavior” and “encourage others to make key reforms … [and] fight corruption.”
  • What is at stake is far more than a somewhat dysfunctional democracy in a nation of 12 million people on the periphery of the Arab world, some experts say. Tunisia’s democratic survival is a test for the whole Middle East—and, indeed, could help provide a long-term solution to the ongoing problem of Islamist terrorism. 
  • ...9 more annotations...
  • “If this administration wants to be serious about protecting democracy as a broad policy approach, there are really few places more significant.” It wouldn’t cost a lot, Feldman points out. But making clear that Saied’s moves are unacceptable would “show we actually believe in democracy and we’re not being merely situational about it.”
  • the Arab tyrannies and monarchies have been urging Saied on toward more authoritarianism and lumping Ennahdha together with extremist Islamist groups
  • democracy has not been terribly rewarding so far for Tunisia. Saied’s power grab was actually popular among large masses who have complained of rampant corruption and are suffering terribly for basic needs.
  • A report this month from Human Rights First indicated that the restoration of Arab dictatorships may be generating a new generation of terrorists; in Egypt, a harsh crackdown on democracy and human rights activists by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former general who seized power in 2014, has led to active recruitment by the Islamic State in Egypt’s prison system. 
  • “It’s time to stop saying it’s early days [for this administration] because we’re six months in and there is no palpable new approach.” In February, the Biden administration approved a $197 million sale of missiles to Egypt days after the Egyptian government detained family members of a U.S.-based Egyptian American human rights activist.
  • The president is as much a practitioner of realpolitik as he is an advocate of democracy, and it’s clear his main interest is not in nurturing new democracies but in herding together the mature industrial democracies against major authoritarian threats such as China and Russia.
  • hortly before Saied’s takeover, the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation approved nearly $500 million in aid to strengthen Tunisia’s transportation, trade, and water sectors. Saied’s government is also seeking a three-year $4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, which answers to pressure from Washington and other major capitals. Washington has other leverage as well: In 2020, the United States signed on to a 10-year military cooperation program with Tunis, and the two sides regularly hold joint exercises. And in the last decade, Washington has invested more than $1 billion in the Tunisian military, according to U.S. Africa Command.
  • Tunisia has had no support for its transition within the Middle East North Africa region and far too little support from other democracies in Europe and the United States
  • “I think we often forget that democratic revolutions are almost never successful on the first attempt,”
Ed Webb

Turkey launches Operation Spring Shield against Syrian forces - 0 views

  • Ankara said today that it had launched Operation Spring Shield against the Syrian Arab Army on a day that saw Turkey down two Russian-made Syrian air force jets, and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on March 5 over the unfolding Idlib crisis.
  • Turkey said it had destroyed several air defense systems, more than 100 tanks and killed 2,212 members of the Syrian forces, including three top generals in drone strikes since Feb 27
  • The dramatic escalation pitting NATO member Turkey against the far weaker Syrian Arab army followed Feb. 27 airstrikes that killed at least 36 Turkish soldiers in Idlib, sending shock waves throughout Turkey.
  • ...8 more annotations...
  • Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said at least 21 “Iranian-backed terrorists” were also “neutralized” in Idlib, in a reference to Afghan, Pakistani and other Iranian-backed Shiite militias that have been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Idlib
  • As war raged on in Idlib, a humanitarian drama was unfolding at Turkey’s border with Greece. On Thursday, Turkey announced that its borders were open for millions of Syrian and other refugees in Turkey to leave. It justified the move on the grounds that it could no longer cope with the burden, with up to a million civilians fleeing regime violence in Idlib remaining massed along Syria's border with Turkey. Thousands of migrants have gathered near Greece's Kastanies border crossing, some getting there by taking free rides on buses organized by the Turkish government. Turkey’s state-owned Arabic-language broadcasting channel, TRT Arabi, provided maps for migrants showing various routes to reach the border.
  • Erdogan lashed out at the EU for failing to fulfill a 2016 deal under which Turkey undertook to care for nearly 4 million mostly Syrian refugees in exchange for 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) in financial support
  • the effect of this new blackmail is a complete disaster. One because the Turkish leadership is officially misleading migrants, telling them that ‘borders are open.’ Two because this is now an additional state-organized humanitarian disaster. There is total bewilderment in Europe at what the Turkish leadership can do when finding itself in a total, self-inflicted dead end
  • “The term that best characterizes Turkey’s current foreign and security policy is kakistrocracy, that is, government by the least qualified,” he told Al-Monitor. “The only silver lining in the Idlib crisis is that now [the Turkish government] can blame Turkey’s looming economic crisis on exogenous factors, allowing Erdogan to deny that his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who is in charge of the economy, is to blame for his incompetence and mismanagement.”
  • “Aleppo is ours and so is Hatay,” declared Ibrahim Karagul, a fellow Erdoganist scribe on his Twitter feed. He was responding to an article by Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency, which opened to debate Turkey’s 1939 acquisition of Hatay — also known as Alexandretta — in a disputed referendum following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire by the allied powers. The article is believed to have spurred today’s detention of the editor-in-chief of the Turkish version of Sputnik. Mahir Boztepe was released following a phone call between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
  • the consensus among military experts is that Feb. 27 airstrikes were likely carried out by Russian jets. “Russia flies at night, the regime can’t. The Turks were bombed at night,” said Aaron Stein, director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Middle East Program. Both sides have chosen to blame the regime for the attack, presumably to avert a direct confrontation that neither side wants.
  • Did Putin underestimate Erdogan when the pugnacious Turkish leader set a Feb. 29 deadline for Syrian forces to move out of Idlib? Is he merely letting Erdogan save face? Or does Ankara have more agency in its relations with Moscow than it is credited for? It’s probably a bit of everything, said Kevork Oskanian, an honorary research fellow at Birmingham University who is writing a book titled “Russian Empire.” He told Al-Monitor, "Russia’s reluctance to intervene in the regime’s favor does appear to be designed to allow Erdogan to save face while also softening Assad up for compromise.”
Ed Webb

Mohammed Bin Salman; A Prince Who Should Not Become A King » Deep State Radio... - 0 views

  • In a meeting with current and former U.S officials in Washington during his last visit in the Spring, crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman said that he was interested in spending up to a hundred million dollars to arm the “Lebanese Forces”, the civil war Christian militia turned political party to transform it from a political adversary of Hezbollah into a lethal enemy. According to a participant in the meeting, the crown prince found no interest in this scheme either in Washington or in Beirut. Contrary to its name, this political party does not have an armed wing and its leadership has disavowed publicly the use of force.
  • The Qatar crisis demonstrated clearly that the new younger leaders in the Gulf see politics as a zero sum game, that they  are more willing  than their more measured and cautious fathers, to double down and burn the last bridge.
  • No Arab country could match Iran’s Shi’a foreign legions, with sectarian legions of their own. Mohammed Bin Salman is very aware of this predicament, and of the embarrassing limits of Saudi military power.
  • ...8 more annotations...
  • In his short tenure, Mohammed Bin Salman has blazed a trail of bold and bloody moves domestically and regionally that were norm busting, counterintuitive and precedent breaking. While every Saudi monarch since 1932 had interfered in Yemen’s domestic affairs politically, militarily and often aggressively, only Muhammed Bin Salman as the leader of the wealthiest Arab country waged a war to destroy the already weak and fractured economy and infrastructure of the poorest Arab country. His air war soon turned into a rampage of indiscriminate bombings and blockades amounting to possible war crimes, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. Save the Children organization has estimated that 85,000 children might have died of malnutrition and starvation since the bombings began in 2015.
  • Saudi Arabia has had border disputes with Yemen and most of her smaller Gulf neighbors for many years. On occasions it tried to use coercive methods mostly employing tribes to settle these disputes the most famous of which was the Buraimi Oasis dispute of the 1940’s and 50’s, involving Saudi Arabia, Oman and what is now the UAE. But ever since the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981 to coordinate economic, political and potentially military policies, disputes were expected to be resolved amicably among member states; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The grouping never amounted to an alliance and now it is in tatters because of political, personal and ideological tensions involving mainly Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE vs. Qatar.
  • The man who condemned civilians in Yemen to a slow death, blockaded neighboring Qatar, cracked down harshly on peaceful activists at home, ordered the brutal killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi abroad, and engaged in a brazen shakedown of other Saudi royals, was in the process of trying to add to his list of depredations, the resumption of armed conflict in Lebanon.
  • Mohammed Bin Salman has trapped himself in a war in Yemen that he cannot win, but he has already lost his campaign against Qatar.
  • the case can be made that Mohammed Bin Salman’s war in Yemen made the Houthis more dependent on Iran and gave Iran and Hezbollah a military foothold on the Arabian Peninsula that did not exist before the war. The blockade of Qatar led to improved political, economic and trade relations between Doha and Tehran, and increased Turkey’s military profile in the Gulf for the first time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.
  • Much has been written about Mohammed Bin Salman as a ‘reformer’, but most of the focus was on the ‘historic’ decision to allow women to drive, (a decision any new ruler was expected to take) to open up movie theatres, and to allow men and women for the first time to watch together sport competitions. The crown prince was praised because he wanted to diversify the ‘one crop economy’ and make it less dependent on hydrocarbon production, through greater foreign investment, an issue the Saudi elites have been discussing for years. At best these measures are necessary for any nation to survive let alone thrive in the modern world. But there was not a single serious decision to politically empower the population, or to open the public sphere even very slightly
  • the short reign of Mohammed Bin Salman has been more despotic than previous rulers. No former Saudi Monarch has amassed the executive powers, political, military and economic that the crown prince has concentrated in his hands except for the founder of the ruling dynasty King Abdul-Aziz  Al Saud. His brief tenure has been marked by periodic campaigns of repression. Long before the murder of Khashoggi, scores of writers, intellectuals and clerics were arrested for daring to object to the crown prince’s decisions. Many are still languishing in jails with no formal charges. Even some of the women activists who pushed hard for years to lift the ban on women driving, were incarcerated on trumped up charges of ‘treason’. Women are allowed to drive now – but the crown prince would like them to think that this is because of his magnanimity, and not their struggle- but they are still subject to the misogynistic and atavistic female guardianship system, which treat adult women regardless of their high education and accomplishments as legal minors.
  • Jamal Khashoggi is the last of a long trail of Arab journalists and men of letters murdered by their governments at home and abroad. But he was the first one to have a reputable, international medium, the Washington Post that published his columns in English and Arabic, which was one of the reasons that enraged the crown prince. Jamal, was the first journalist millions of people all over the world watched walking his last steps toward his violent death
Ed Webb

(Re)introducing Conscription in the Gulf: From Soft Power to Nation-Building - Arab Ref... - 0 views

  • In the Middle East, the US invasion of Iraq, the Arab Spring of 2011, and the subsequent foreign interventions in Yemen, Syria, and Libya, brought military preparedness and competence to the surface again. This led to a return of compulsory military service not only in countries that are at war and/or under the threat of military intervention but also in other countries. This was the case of certain Gulf countries including Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which historically seldom resorted to conscription.
  • Qatar introduced conscription in 2013, followed by the UAE in 2014. Kuwait, on the other hand, reintroduced it in 2014, having practiced conscription between 1961 and 2001. Until recently, these countries’ militaries were formed by a national officer corps, foreign - mostly Western- expert non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and foreign contract soldiers coming from different countries (Jordan, Yemen, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Oman)
  • In 2018, not long after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed a blockade on Qatar, the Qatari government amended the National Service Law, introducing national service for women and extending its duration for men. While the national service remains voluntary for women over the age of 18, men are now expected to serve a year instead of three or four months. The new law gives eligible men only 60 days after they come of age to apply to the military and stipulates harsher punishment (up to three years in jail plus a fine) for those who fail to do so.
  • ...6 more annotations...
  • Since the beginning of the 2020s, several articles5Jean-Loup Samaan, “The Rise of the Emirati Defense Industry,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 14 May 2019 https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/79121;  Elenora Ardemagni, “The UAE’s Military Training-Focused Foreign Policy,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 22 October 2020, https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/83033; Melissa Dalton and Hijab Shah, “Evolving UAE Military and Foreign Security Cooperation: Path Toward Military Professionalism,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 12 January 2021,  https://carnegie-mec.org/2021/01/12/evolving-uae-military-and-foreign-security-cooperation-path-toward-military-professionalism-pub-83549; Elenora Ardemagni, “ Building New Gulf States Through Conscription,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 25 April 2018, https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/76178; Elenora Ardemagni, “Gulf Monarchies’ Militarized Nationalism,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 28 February 2019,https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/78472; Zoltan Barany, “Big News! Conscription in the Gulf,” Middle East Institute, 25 January 2017, https://www.mei.edu/publications/big-news-conscription-gulf; Dr. Eman Ahmed Abdel Halim, “Implementation of Military Conscription in the Gulf,” Future for Advanced Research Studies, 12 December 2016, https://futureuae.com/m/Mainpage/Item/2250/pressing-threats-implementation-of-military-conscription-in-the-gulf were written on the economic, social, and geopolitical reasons behind Gulf countries’ shift in military recruitment strategy. The security problems originating from Iran and Yemen, the willingness to exercise soft power in the region along with the volatile energy sector, and the ruptures within the rentier state model are put forward as the main justifications behind the Gulf countries’ developing defense industries and growing their armies. In this context, compulsory military service does play an important role, be it to increase the size of the army, cause deterrence in the region or create new job opportunities and a qualified workforce out of young citizens.
  • can also create intangible moral advantages, and thus have significant effects on these countries’ civil-military relations. The biggest reason for this is the symbiotic relationship that has formed over time between compulsory military service and national sentiment.  In this sense, introducing conscription shows an effort to turn these societies into nations where individuals would be bound to one another by national sentiment and not the rentier state model they have so far known.
  • To raise obedient and productive citizens who wore the same uniform, spoke the same language, and sang the same anthems, education became an important tool in the nation-building process.11Ayşe Gül Altınay and Tanıl Bora, “Ordu, Militarizm ve Milliyetçilik,” Iletişim Yayınları, (2002): 140. In Prussia, this “new form of nationalist socialization” was provided through military establishments with the hope that, after their discharge from military service, men would remain loyal to the state and transfer their sentiment and what they “learned” to the rest of the population.12
  • mandatory military service in these countries should not be seen as a way to efficiently raise strong and competent armies. First, like their Gulf neighbors, neither Qatar, Kuwait, nor the UAE is populated enough to sustain a competent standing army. Most of their populations are made of ex-pats who are not subject to conscription laws. Second, their current system of outsourcing military needs has proven to be efficient in the long run, with all three countries continuing to invest in contracting foreign soldiers to efficiently populate their armies. Therefore, the new conscription laws should be seen as a symbolic move to strengthen nationalistic bonds and ambitions.
  • paradoxically, the exact nationalistic sentiment and loyalty that the Gulf countries try to channel among their citizens can backfire if the people (including the conscripts) were to ever resent the rulers and their policies. This is rather contrary to the long-established coup-proofing strategies25After gaining their independence, most countries in the region (or rather individual leaders) have engaged in various coup-proofing measures to keep their militaries in check. There were different types of coup-measuring strategies. For example, until 2011, Hosni Mubarak, a military man himself, tried to keep the Egyptian military at bay by giving officers and the military institution economic benefits and providing an unfair competition. In Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali took a different approach and choose to ouster the military as an institution completely and empowered the police force. In Sudan and Libya, former presidents Bashar and Gaddafi took a more social approach and tried to counterbalance different groups of society, especially the tribal establishments, as a buffer against the military. In the Gulf, the ruling monarchs resorted to using foreign soldiers to keep the military away from social and political affairs as much as possible. that Arab countries followed over the years. However, given the low numbers of citizens that will be drafted each year, the risk of such revolts taking place remains low.
  • In Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar, there are legal sanctions in place against anyone who fails to enlist when they become eligible and conscientious objection is not recognized. This could cause or further the feeling of oppression and resentment and trigger protests and turmoil in these countries. However, at this stage, this risk is low but still a possibility as seen in Thailand, Israel, and Armenia
Ed Webb

Beyond Oil: Lithium-Ion Battery Minerals and Energy Security - Foreign Policy Research ... - 0 views

  • Should the mass adoption of electric vehicles occur, access to reliable and affordable sources of minerals like cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel, which are used in modern electric-vehicle batteries, will come to occupy a larger share of energy security concerns, especially since one country has already gained control over much of the world’s production and processing of those minerals
  • oil has remained abundant and affordable, despite major production disruptions during the Arab Spring from 2010-2012, in Libya from 2013-2016, and in Venezuela after 2017. In fact, oil prices had dropped 60 percent from their 2008 highs by early 2020, even before the COVID-19 pandemic had made a dent in the global economy.
  • falling oil prices throughout the 2010s may have lulled Western policymakers into believing that the Russian Federation, whose economy is heavily reliant on oil and natural gas exports, would become more docile. It did not; instead, it continued to modernize its military and intimidate its neighbors
  • ...9 more annotations...
  • OPEC and Russia bargained for months, but talks finally broke down after Moscow refused to limit its oil production to help stabilize oil prices in the wake of the slump in global oil demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Calculating that it could hurt Russia enough to force it back to the negotiating table, Saudi Arabia boosted its daily oil output by 20 percent, flooding the market with oil. Not to be intimidated, Russia responded with a short-term increase in its own oil output (possibly to strike back at Saudi Arabia or to force some American shale-oil companies out of business or both). As a result, oil prices collapsed. The futures price for West Texas Intermediate crude touched a remarkable -$37 per barrel. Although beneficial for oil consumers, the Russia-Saudi Arabia oil price war was a reminder of the influence that state-driven oil producers still had over the world’s energy security.
  • a single country, China, has gained control over much of the world’s production and processing of the cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel used in lithium-ion batteries, the type of electricity-storage devices favored by electric-vehicle manufacturers today.
  • Chinese companies now control almost half of the DRC’s cobalt output, which constitutes over two-thirds of the world’s production. Perhaps of greater concern, China has come to dominate the refining and processing of those minerals. Eighty percent of the cobalt sulphates and oxides used for lithium-ion battery cathodes are processed in China.
  • China’s monopoly can be largely attributed to its relatively low energy costs and less stringent environmental regulations.
  • Though China controls a smaller share of the world’s production of lithium than that of other minerals, it has been buying up stakes in lithium mines around the globe.
  • Moving up the value chain, it is expected to build 101 of the 136 lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants that are currently planned over the next decade
  • n 2010, China abruptly restricted its rare-earth metal exports to Japan, nominally to protect the environment. But after a lengthy review, the World Trade Organization ruled against China’s restrictions. Since then, worries about relying on China as a strategic-minerals supplier have continued to grow. Sometimes, China feeds those fears. In one 2019 incident, China’s state-run Global Times flaunted the country’s dominance over rare-earth metals as a strategic weapon against other countries with the headline “China gears up to use rare-earth advantage.” Such not-so-veiled threats from government-linked media only fan suspicions that China will behave no better than Russia or Saudi Arabia—and possibly worse.
  • In 2019, the U.S. Department of State launched the Energy Resources Governance Initiative to “promote resilient and secure energy resource mineral supply chains” for all kinds of renewable energy and battery storage technologies.  The initiative’s membership has grown to include Australia, Botswana, Canada, Peru,
  • the world appears to be swapping its old dependency on OPEC and Russia, a fractious bunch that until recently was losing power to American oil-shale upstarts, for a new one on China, a single country with a one-party government
Ed Webb

Egyptian President Seeks Regional Initiative for Syria Peace - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • Coming at a moment of acute hand-wringing in the Western capitals over how an Islamist leadership of the largest Arab state might alter the American-backed regional order, Mr. Morsi’s focus bisects Washington’s customary division of the region, between Western-friendly states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the one hand and Iran on the other, said Emad Shahin, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo.
  • Mr. Morsi’s specific initiative, in particular, also appears largely harmonious with the stated Western objective of ending the Syrian bloodshed.
  • I don’t think this is a confrontational foreign policy. It is a regional foreign policy, tacking a regional problem through the capitals of the four most influential regional states, without looking through the prism of Washington and Tel Aviv
  • ...4 more annotations...
  • Mr. Morsi is visiting Tehran this week to attend a meeting of an organization of so-called nonaligned states, but his spokesman, Mr. Ali, said the visit would last only a few hours, without any bilateral talks
  • The unorthodox combination of players in the proposed working group is a measure of the changing dynamics within the region. Mr. Morsi comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Arab Islamist movement that has long been opposed to Saudi Arabia’s Western-friendly monarchy, which has outlawed the group as subversive. Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been fierce rivals of Iran. And while Iran has provided military and logistics support to the Assad government, both Turkey and Saudi Arabia have helped arm the rebels trying to bring it down. Mr. Morsi, though, may be well positioned to bring together the working group, analysts said. Egypt has credibility as “an emerging player in the Arab world and a somewhat successful model of a democratic transition in the Arab Spring,” said Mr. Harling of the International Crisis Group.
  • Mr. Morsi’s spokesman, Mr. Ali, stressed that the new president intended to make independence and openness the hallmarks of Egyptian foreign policy. “Egyptian diplomacy will be more active, more vibrant,” he said. “We have gone through a very long period of diplomatic stagnation, torpidity and rigidity.” He added: “We’re not counted in any axis or any old groupings. Therefore, our minds are open for everyone, and our hands are extended to everyone.”
  • Egypt has in recent months received $3 billion in loans from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is seeking a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. And the United States is in talks over the delivery of more than $1 billion in promised aid.
Ed Webb

The Real Reason the Middle East Hates NGOs - Foreign Policy - 0 views

  • when pressed, the head of the officers’ delegation became red-faced with anger. Apparently, laying the groundwork for more open and just politics did not include human rights organizations, good-governance groups, environmentalists, private associations that provide aid to people in need, or other NGOs.
  • in Egypt, employees of NGOs have become virtual enemies of the state. In keeping with its reputation as the lone Arab Spring “success story,” Tunisia has created a more welcoming environment for these groups, but even there, the ability of NGOs to carry out their work can be constrained given that a state of emergency and other laws place restrictions on the right to assemble
  • the relentless pressure Middle Eastern governments have long applied to NGOs. Leaders in the region do not do well with ideas like “self-organizing,” “relatively autonomous from the state,” and the creation of associations and “solidarities” — and it is hard, without justifying repression, not to see why. Civil society groups have the potential to help people with common interests overcome the considerable obstacles to collective action that many Middle Eastern governments have put in place and, in the process, give greater voice to people’s grievances.
  • ...5 more annotations...
  • officials in the region have often boasted of the large number of nongovernmental organizations (even as they were cracking down on them) as a way to both deflect criticism from abroad and embed in the minds of their citizens the idea that reform was underway. It has hardly been believable and has not worked, which is why the default for Middle Eastern governments is to repress such groups.
  • It is a mistake to conclude that only narrowly self-serving authoritarianism explains the thuggish approach to NGOs around the Middle East. After all, the hounding of these groups (including in Israel) seems to be out of proportion to any evidence that they can create significant political change in the region. No doubt many NGOs have helped people in need throughout the Middle East, but those dedicated to governance and human rights, for example, have hardly had an impact. But then why do the Middle East’s commanders of tanks, planes, and missiles treat the Arab hippies who want to defend the freedom of association as such a problem? The threat isn’t about loosening the authoritarians’ grip on power, but something more abstract: the Middle East’s fragile sense of identity and sovereignty.
  • Arab leaders essentially regard nongovernmental organizations, especially those with foreign funding, as agents of a neocolonial project. The hypocrisy of this position for governments that either receive copious amounts of foreign assistance or that rely on the West for their security is self-evident, but that does not necessarily diminish its effectiveness
  • Western-funded human rights campaigners and good-governance activists as the most recent manifestation of the civilizing mission that originally brought European colonialists to North Africa and the Levant
  • The related problem of sovereignty brings the matter into sharp relief. The European penetration of the Middle East in the late 18th and early 19th centuries began a long-term process of intellectual ferment and discovery among Middle Easterners about how best to confront this challenge. Islamic reformism, Arab nationalism, and Islamism, which emphasized identity, were the most politically effective (and enduring) regional responses
Ed Webb

Thousands of Gulf Arabs are abandoning their homeland - Voting with their feet - 0 views

  • The absolute numbers look small: 815 Saudis applied for asylum in 2017, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency. But that is a 318% increase over 2012
  • 815 Saudis applied for asylum in 2017, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency. But that is a 318% increase over 2012 (see chart).
  • About three times as many from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sought asylum in 2016 as in 2012. Tiny Qatar saw its count more than double in the same period. Saudi Arabia has seen the steepest increase, though
  • ...3 more annotations...
  • Liberal-minded Saudis who can afford to leave the country often cool their heels in London or Washington.
  • Though most Gulf states weathered the Arab spring without serious unrest, the revolutions elsewhere unnerved them. The UAE stepped up domestic surveillance and rounded up activists. Qatar passed a “cyber-crime” law that is broad and easily abused. Political activity was never encouraged in the Gulf, but after 2011 it was ruthlessly punished.
  • Barely two years ago young people were flocking home to work with Prince Muhammad. Many found the kingdom’s social strictures stifling. In the crown prince, though, they saw a kindred spirit, a fellow millennial who wanted to reform the economy and culture. He delivered on the latter, permitting women to drive and allowing once-banned cinemas and concerts.“And then everything changed,” says one 30-something who took a government job. Hardly a fire-breathing dissident, she supports the monarchy and the goals of the Saudi-led war in Yemen (if not Saudi tactics there). But after Khashoggi’s murder and the arrests of hundreds of activists at home, she is planning to resign.
1 - 20 of 67 Next › Last »
Showing 20 items per page