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Ed Webb

Cultural Clash Fuels Muslims Raging at Film - - 0 views

    For discussion on 9/17
Ed Webb

U.S. debt relief for Egypt is mostly politics - News - Aswat Masriya - 1 views

  • President Mohamed Mursi faces many challenges to get Egypt's finances into shape, but high foreign debt isn't one of them. Interest payments eat up one quarter of public spending but the burden stems from high domestic debt. Egypt's total external borrowing was just $35 billion or less than 15 percent of GDP, as of June 2011.
  • Military aid has benefited U.S. strategic interests by buying priority access to the Suez Canal and to Egyptian air space, as well as support for Middle East peace. Egypt's military view the payments as "untouchable compensation" for making peace with Israel, according to documents published by Wikileaks. The aid also supports U.S. defence equipment manufacturers, as the funds must be spent on American hardware and services.
Ed Webb

Opinion Briefing: Libyans Eye New Relations With the West - 1 views

  • Instability in Libya has already had ripple effects in the region, as many analysts believe that Libya's revolution may have contributed to Mali's crisis after pro-Gadhafi Tuaregs returned and allied with Islamists to dislodge the Malian government from half of the country. The West and the U.S. have an interest not only in ensuring Libya's stability, but also in keeping its energy on the international market and promoting Libyan democracy as an example in the region.
  • In 2012, 54% of Libyans approve of U.S. leadership -- among the highest approval Gallup has ever recorded in the Middle East and North Africa region, outside of Israel.
  • Libyans also approve of the leadership of the United Kingdom, which also supported the intervention in Libya. They are less enamored with Germany's leaders, who did not support the action. Libyans express little approval of the leadership of Russia and China, countries that were perceived by many as opposing rebel groups and NATO intervention.
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  • Unlike in Libya, revolutionaries in Tunisia and Egypt succeeded in overthrowing regimes without resorting to armed rebellion and foreign military support. Western military intervention in Libya's revolution likely raised suspicions of ulterior motives and may have reminded neighboring Arabs of prior, unpopular Western military campaigns in the region
  • More than three in four Libyans (77%) also support the West sending governance experts to their country, an important development in a country that will require major institution building for years to come. The majority (61%) also favor economic aid from the West. The only form of assistance that a majority of Libyans do not approve of is aid for political groups (34%).
Ed Webb

Trip Report: Meeting the Syrian Opposition in Antakya and Istanbul | Fikra Forum - 0 views

  • Having recently returned from a European Foundation for Democracy sponsored trip to Antakya and Istanbul, during which a European delegation and I met over 100 Syrian opposition figures, a number of important observations come to mind. First, one of my strongest impressions is that things are not what they seem. It is very difficult on the ground to be sure who it is that you are really talking to and what they represent. Second, Turkish officials maintain a striking degree of control over Syrian opposition forces inside Turkey. Third, the Muslim Brotherhood is pervasive not only within the Syrian National Council (SNC), but among many opposition groups – mostly outside Syria. Lastly, there is a striking cynicism and anger among fighters within Syria toward the outside world for not providing enough practical support.
  • Syrians of all backgrounds seem to be free to move between Syria and Turkey with only Turkish permission. The Syrian government now seems to have lost control of its borders in every direction.
  • there is a distinct Turkish preference for some parts of the opposition movement; they favor the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Syrian National Council.
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  • An unfortunate paradox has emerged in which well-meaning and well-connected Syrians are setting up new groups every day, saying, "I am going to unify the opposition."
  • most of these Syrians hold Israel responsible for preventing greater U.S. support. Aside from one exception, this view was nearly unanimous. In spite of, or perhaps because of, this very weird perception about Israel’s power, whenever we asked, “If Israel offered weapons or help, would you take it?” the answer was almost always, “definitely”!
  • they want communications equipment, medical supplies, and anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. They do not want more meetings, political support, training, and declarations
  • We heard over and over that "you are complicit in the slaughter of the Syrian people." It was not that "you are not giving enough support," but "you do not want Assad to fall" and "you want Syrian people to be slaughtered."
  • the Islamists tend to be relatively well organized, well disciplined, and unified, even if they do not represent the majority. This is the case in Syria among the outside opposition, but not on the inside, where the MB still has a limited presence. However, these other groups may not be a match for the discipline and unity of the MB in the political battle as the regime collapses
  • what we heard most was, "Give us anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. We don’t even need your air cover or corridors. Give us the weapons and we will do it ourselves.”
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