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Ed Webb

Stronger Egypt-Iran rapproachement could be a message to third parties | Egypt Independent - 1 views

  • Ahmadinejad wants to convey regional leadership and to claim success in opening and warming relations with Egypt. He also benefits from having an Islamist leader, like Morsy, greet him warmly
  • “With so much trouble at home, Morsy may have wanted to look like a global statesman by welcoming Ahmadinejad. He may also want to signal his independence from Western political interests, as we’ve seen through his warming relations with the Hamas’ leadership,”
  • During a news conference, an Al-Azhar spokesperson gave the Iranian leader a public scolding, listing five demands, which included the protection of Sunni and Khuzestani minorities in Iran, ending political interference in Bahrain, ending its support of the Syrian regime, and ending Iran’s ostensible mission to spread Shia Islam across the region.
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  • “Morsy sends a clear message to the Gulf countries and especially the [United Arab Emirates] that he can easily create alternative strategic relationship,” Labbad says, adding that such “political vexing” is a response to the failure of the visit by Morsy adviser Essam al-Haddad to resolve the issue of 11 Egyptian detainees in the UAE. The latter are said to have strong connections to the Brotherhood’s international organization, in the midst of growing enmity between Egypt and the UAE..

    Labbad argues that Morsy thus does not aim at real and deep rapprochement with Iran, but rather a cosmetic patch up to send signals to the Gulf. “The context here is very dangerous, because the revived relationship with Iran should be an addition to Egypt’s foreign policy, not a replacement of its relationship with the Gulf countries,” he adds.

    Momani doubts such an inclination by Morsy, as Egypt cannot afford the cost of such a policy. “This strategy can backfire and upset Gulf donors and benefactors. Iran can never supply the kinds of funds that are provided by the Gulf,” she says.

  • “I think neither Morsy nor Ahmadinejad enjoy the authority to have complete control or knowledge of their respective government’s grand strategies for Syria. What seems certain is that a realist agenda determines foreign policy on both sides. Both seek a Syrian government they can control or at least influence,”
Ed Webb

President Obama Is Busy - NYTimes.com - 2 views

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    One of those rare occasions when Tom Friedman uses his influential niche to say something worth saying.
Ed Webb

Fahmy: Relations with US bound to change under Obama or Romney | Caravan - 0 views

  • whether it's Obama or Romney the relationship will change, because for the first time they will have to take into account the public opinion, as well as the government's and they are not used to that.
  • you should not underestimate the complexity of managing a relationship with completely different players today, and a different paradigm in the region than what we have been used to for the past 50 years.
  • a lot of moving parts
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  • the US has been traditionally used to dealing with a centralized point of authority, in other words governments, and ignoring the Arab street. Well, Arab governments, now, will not be able to ignore their street, and therefore foreign governments will not be able to ignore the street
Ed Webb

Syrian opposition group tells U.S. to stay out of internal politics | McClatchy - 0 views

  • “The politics of the United States are very, very bad, very stupid,” said Mohammed Sarmini, spokesman for the Syrian National Council, whose 310 members represent most of the major parties and organizations in exile. “This may be an American project, but it is very offensive to the Syrian people. You should support us on the ground, not get into our politics.”
  • signs that the Obama administration may be out of touch with Syrian exile politics
  • accord in four major areas, the most important of which is probably the plan for a transitional government. The accord calls for an assembly of 300 Syrians, to be held inside the country if possible, to elect the government. Most of the participants would be from the inside, intended to give the legitimacy that many transitional governments do not have.

    One-quarter of the participants would represent the municipal councils set up to run liberated areas, one-quarter from the armed resistance groups, one-quarter of state bureaucrats who have defected to the opposition and one-quarter from the Syrian National Council.

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  • a new constitution, based on the 1950 constitution, which put heavy stress on civil rights; to institute an election law that provides for multiple parties and a parliamentary system; to institute a new national security administration and to make it a constitutional requirement that the military stays out of politics
  • American officials have been elusive and avoided media inquiries
  • Ziadeh said he was not sure whether the United States had actually drafted the plan for the opposition or had bought into a new plan drafted by Riad Seif, a prominent dissident who left Syria earlier this summer after a decade of house arrest and jail
  • The humanitarian situation in Syria is now one of if not the worst crisis on Earth. Officially the death toll is stated at 30,000 to 35,000. But a European diplomat in Istanbul who closely monitors the war and humanitarian aid efforts estimates the actual death toll at more than 100,000, a number with which reputable Syrian opposition figures agree
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    The US should not be bungling stuff like this. If Washington and its allies want more say in the Syrian transitional process (and why should they?) then they need to be more actively engaged and supportive. But in general they should not be in the game of trying to pick winners among the opposition, even if they are worried about radicals. The latter will only ever be a minority.
Ed Webb

F.A.Q. on U.S. Aid to Egypt: Where Does the Money Go-And Who Decides How It's Spent? - ... - 0 views

  • article has been updated to reflect new developments. It was first published on Jan. 31, 2011
  • How much does the U.S. spend on Egypt?

    Egypt gets the most U.S. foreign aid of any country except for Israel. (This doesn't include the money [3] spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.) The exact amount varies from year to year and there are many different funding streams, but U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt has averaged about $2 billion a year since 1979

  • military funding also enables Egypt to purchase U.S.-manufactured military goods and services
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  • Congress threatened to block the aid when Egypt began a crackdown on a number of American pro-democracy groups this winter. A senior Obama administration official said that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had no way to certify [10] the bill's conditions were being met.

    But in March Clinton waived the certification requirement (yes, she can do that) and approved the aid, despite concerns remaining about Egypt's human rights record. The reason? "A delay or cut in $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt risked breaking existing contracts with American arms manufacturers that could have shut down production lines in the middle of President Obama's re-election campaign," the New York Times reported [11]. Breaking the contracts could have left the Pentagon on the hook for $2 billion.

  • U.S. economic aid to Egypt has slumped from $815 million in 1998 to about $250 million in 2011
  • When the Obama administration announced last month [18] that it was sending the Egyptian government $450 million to help forestall a budget crisis, Representative Kay Granger, a Texas Republican and the chairwoman of a subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said she would block the money because of concerns about Egypt's direction under the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ed Webb

Turkey Arrests Two After Killing of U.S. Ambassador: TV - Bloomberg - 0 views

  • suspects, identified as Tunisians,
  • fake passports
  • not clear whether the suspects might be extradited to Libya or the U.S.
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