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Ed Webb

The Other Regional Counter-Revolution: Iran's Role in the Shifting Political Landscape ... - 2 views

  • Saudi Arabia’s role as a counter-revolutionary force in the Middle East is widely understood and thoroughly documented. Historian Rosie Bsheer calls the Saudi kingdom “a counter-revolutionary state par excellence,” indeed one that was “consolidated as such.”[2] The Saudi monarchy has gone into counter-revolutionary overdrive since the onset of the Arab uprisings, scrambling to thwart popular movements and keep the region’s dictators in power — from Egypt and Bahrain to Yemen and Sudan (and beyond)
  • less understood is the counter-revolutionary role that Iran plays in the region’s politics
  • Iran as a “revolutionary” state has been dead for quite some time yet somehow stumbles along and blinds us to what is actually happening on the ground in the Middle East
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  • The defining slogan of Lebanon’s uprising — “all of them means all of them” (kellon yani kellon) — called out the country’s entire ruling class, which includes Hezbollah. One pointed variation on the slogan was “All of them means all of them, and Nasrallah is one of them.”
  • Hezbollah’s attacks on the demonstrators were not only physical but rhetorical, framing the popular revolt as part of a foreign plot against Hezbollah and its regional allies in the “Axis of Resistance” — accusations that were “met with ridicule
  • Hezbollah is “now viewed by many demonstrators as part of the corrupt and morally bankrupt political establishment that must be replaced,”
  • The Lebanese writer and podcaster Joey Ayoub captures the Orwellian upside-down-ness of this ideological sleight of hand in his formulation “Hezbollah’s Resistance™ against resistance.”[33] Hezbollah, he shows, tries to have it both ways: on the one hand, defending the status quo and maintaining Lebanon’s “sectarian-capitalist structures,” while at the same time banking on its membership in the so-called “Axis of Resistance.” That is, posturing as a force for “resistance” — a zombie category amid Lebanon’s current political landscape — while attacking people engaged in actual resistance to the ruling system and undermining progressive social movements.
  • Tehran also intervened politically, maneuvering to keep Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Abdul Mahdi in power in the face of demands from protesters that he step down.[66] (Mahdi eventually did resign, in late November 2019 — a major victory for the protest movement that Tehran endeavored to circumvent.)
  • The protests that erupted in Iraq in October 2019 were arguably the “biggest grassroots socio-political mobilization” in the country’s history.[37] At root, that mobilization was “about the poor, the disempowered and the marginalized demanding a new system,” notes the Iraqi sociologist Zahra Ali.[38] The Tishreen (October) uprising, as it came to be known, quickly spread to “cities and towns across central and southern Iraq”[39] and eventually “engulfed virtually the whole country (though they were most concentrated in Baghdad and the Shia-dominated southern governorates).”
  • the 2019 protests represented “the most serious challenge yet to the post-2003 political order,” the Iraq scholar Fanar Haddad observes
  • the movement “classified itself as a ‘revolution’ in terms of discourse, demands, and objectives.” “[E]ven if the current movement fails to achieve a political revolution,” Haddad argues, “and even if it is not a revolution, it is undoubtedly a revolutionary movement that has already achieved a cultural revolution.”
  • As Berman, Clarke, and Majed note: A movement demanding wholesale political change represented a real threat to the system of cronyism and rapaciousness that has enriched Iraq’s politicians over the last two decades, and these elites quickly mobilized an array of state and non-state security agents in an attempt to quash this challenge.[54] Mohammad al Basri, a figure affiliated with Iraq’s paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units, expressed this mindset with rare bluntness: “Do they really think that we would hand over a state, an economy, one that we have built over 15 years? That they can just casually come and take it? Impossible! This is a state that was built with blood.”
  • Iran is deeply implicated in this counter-revolutionary repression — both indirectly, as the chief political ally and patron of the Iraqi government over the last 15 years, and directly, through the web of militias and paramilitary forces coordinated by the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which have opened fire on protesters
  • The parallels between the Iraqi and Lebanese revolts are manifold, starting with their timing: mass protests engulfed both countries starting in October 2019. Iraqi and Lebanese protesters were conscious of the connections between their struggles: “in the different protest squares people are shouting: ‘One revolution, from Baghdad to Beirut,’” notes Sami Adnan, an activist in Baghdad with the group Workers Against Sectarianism.[34] It’s also important to see the two upheavals in their wider regional context, as part of the “second wave” of Arab uprisings that also included momentous popular movements in Algeria and Sudan — or, as some argue, the uprisings that have been ongoing across the Middle East and North Africa since December 2010.
  • Iraqi protesters weren’t just rebelling against Iran’s local allies, but against Iran itself. Protesters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square smashed banners of Khamenei with their shoes.[67] Others put up a white banner with red Xs drawn through photographs of Khamenei and Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s regional policy.[68] “Images of Ayatollah Khomeini were removed from cities like Najaf, and pro-Iran political parties with prominent militias that were involved in the violence against the protesters had their branch offices attacked and burned,” Alkinani notes.[69] Most spectacularly, protesters set fire to the Iranian consulate in Karbala and Najaf amid chants of “Iran out of Iraq”.[70]
  • in the face of popular uprisings expressing emancipatory demands, Iran sides not with the protesters but with the ruling establishments they’re protesting against
  • Iran’s official narrative is that its role in Syria is all about fighting terrorism — specifically Al Qaeda and ISIS. But this is a classic case of reading history backwards. In fact, Iran rushed to the defense of the Assad regime as soon as the uprising began — when there was no Al Qaeda or ISIS presence whatsoever (the only jihadists were the ones the regime intentionally let out of its prisons as part of its jihadization strategy).[78] “From the very moment Assad faced popular protests, the Quds Force and Tehran were ready to do all they could to save the rule of the Baath Party,” notes Arash Azizi. Indeed, the Islamic Republic’s emissaries “were pushing on Assad to suppress the uprising mercilessly.”[79] And that is precisely what the regime did
  • The Islamic Republic’s “first reaction” to the demonstrations in Syria “was to open its own playbook and show Assad pages from the post-election protests in 2009,” he observes. “Decision-makers appear to have hoped that Assad would use enough brute force — arrests, beatings, and a limited amount of killings — to spread fear and quickly re-establish control.”
  • Iran helped flip the script and present the Syrian protests not as part of the wave of Arab uprisings — which it decidedly was — but as a foreign-inspired terrorist plot. This rhetorical framing was awkward for the Islamic Republic, which had voiced support for other Arab uprisings — those in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya. This put Tehran in a bind, praising the people of the region for rising up against the dictators that oppressed them but siding with the dictator in Syria.[84] Amin Saikal characterizes this Syrian exception as “an intervention that ran counter to Tehran’s declared rhetoric of supporting the downtrodden masses.”
  • the Islamic Republic intensified its support for the Assad regime in 2011 but its stalwart support for the dynastic dictatorship in Damascus goes back several decades — and while the Assad regime exponentially heightened its level of repression in 2011, violence has been at the very core of its rule throughout
  • “[t]he ‘revolutionary’ slogans of Iran’s ‘resistance’ are empty rhetoric that merely back whatever policies benefit the corrupt ruling elite in Tehran.”
  • the so-called Axis of Resistance, “ostensibly dedicated to furthering the emancipatory aspirations of the Arab and Muslim masses,” has in reality “played a critical role in containing regional revolution and preventing the emergence of a more democratically oriented regional order.”
  • The Islamic Republic “sounds more and more like those same sclerotic rulers it once railed against,” Daragahi observes — “suspicious of any new development that threatens the status quo it dominates.”
  • We need to retire zombie categories — like that of Iran as a “revolutionary” force in the Middle East, and the fiction of the “Axis of Resistance”
  • Both the Islamic Republic and the Saudi Kingdom play counter-revolutionary roles in the Middle East. They are competing counter-revolutionary powers, each pursuing its counter-revolutionary agenda in its respective sphere of influence within the region.
Ed Webb

Iranian protesters strike at the heart of the regime's revolutionary legitimacy - 0 views

  • If the unofficial reports of dead and wounded are anywhere near accurate, this might be the most deadly uprising since the 1979 revolution.
  • Iran’s turmoil is not driven by U.S. policies, nor is it merely some circumstantial spasm. The protests are the latest salvo in the Iranian struggle for accountable government that stretches back more than a century. And the fury and desperation of the Iranians on the streets this week strikes at the heart of the legitimacy of the revolutionary system.
  • After the monarchy was ousted, collective action — both spontaneous and opportunistic — was a primary mechanism for gaining advantage in the chaotic struggle for power.
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  • Most infamously, this led to a student-led seizure of the American embassy in Tehran 40 years ago this month, an action that toppled Iran’s liberal-leaning provisional government and permanently escalated tensions between Washington and Tehran.
  • Over the course of the past 40 years, Iran has routinely witnessed all varieties of rallies and riots; sit-ins by families of political prisoners; labor strikes by teachers, truckers, and factory workers; student demonstrations over everything from free speech to dormitory conditions and cafeteria food; soccer riots; and marches and sit-ins sparked by localized grievances. These manifestations have never been limited by geography or class.
  • The durability of the Islamic Republic is perhaps the most important legacy of 1979 revolution. None of the extraordinary developments within or around Iran over the course of the past 40 years has managed to significantly alter it — not the considerable evolution of Iranian society, nor the country’s steady reengagement with the world, nor the incremental reforms advanced by various factions within the establishment. In many respects, the structure of power in the Islamic Republic seems even more firmly embedded today than it was at any point since its precarious creation.
  • if war, internal upheaval, regional turmoil, natural disasters, crippling economic sanctions, and near-constant infighting among the political establishment have failed to weaken theocratic authority, perhaps any hope for change is simply futile
  • Iran’s “lost generation” is now approaching the age of the revolution itself, and the absence of a promising political or economic horizon has become painfully acute — and not simply for elites, but for the larger population of Iran’s post-revolutionary youth. These Iranians have benefited from the revolution’s dramatic expansion of educational opportunities and broader social welfare infrastructure. That legacy and the regime’s populist promises have shaped their expectations for a better life and sense of political entitlement to a functioning, responsive government.
  • The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center recorded more than 1,200 labor actions related to non-payment of wages between January 2017 and November 2018. The apex came in the final days of 2017 and early 2018, when what apparently began as a provincial political stunt quickly flared into a spasm of furious demonstrations. Within 48 hours, protests were convulsing in at least 80 cities, and the refrains of the demonstrators had catapulted from economic grievances to explicit denunciations of the system and the entirety of its leadership
  • It is clear from Tehran’s reaction to the latest eruption of protests that the leadership is unnerved, and for good reasons: the rapid progression from mundane, localized demands to radical rejection of the system as a whole; the transmission and coordination of protests via social media rather than mediated through the more manageable traditional press; the engagement of the government’s core constituency, the rising middle class; and the near-instantaneous dispersion from local to national.
  • In each of Iran’s most significant turning points over the past 150 years — the Tobacco Revolt, the Constitutional Revolution, the oil nationalization crisis, the 1979 revolution — financial pressures intensified and expedited the political challenge to the status quo.
  • Tehran today is facing an epic, interconnected set of crises: the crisis of unmet expectations, which feeds a crisis of legitimacy for a system whose waning ideological legitimacy has been supplanted by reliance on a more prosaic emphasis on state performance and living standards. Iran’s predicament is exacerbated by the uncertainties surrounding leadership succession, both with respect to the position of the supreme leader, who marked his 80th birthday earlier this year, and the legions of senior officials from the same generation who helped shape the post-revolutionary state from its inception.
  • Eventually, as happened 40 years ago in Iran, even the most well-fortified regime will shatter.
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
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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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

Our revolution has been stolen, say Libya's jihadists | Reuters - 0 views

  • One effect of hostile reactions at home and abroad has been that some Islamist groups, part of a patchwork of militias which fill a vacuum left by Gaddafi, have made a tactical retreat from view, in some declaring their brigades to have disbanded.
  • Islamist fighters in Derna make clear they will seek redress for grievances, many with little to do with religion, some dating to colonial times, others rooted in a sense that victory in the fight against Gaddafi they began years ago has been "stolen" by his former henchmen and stooges of the West
  • "The state is making up this conspiracy. The state deliberately ignores the fact that there is an Islamic renaissance," said Dirbi, whose brother was among more that 1,200 Islamist inmates machine-gunned by guards in a Tripoli prison in 1996."I want to see Gaddafi's men on trial, not being rewarded and honored,"
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  • The town's radical reputation has lately been burnished by the presence of several former Guantanamo prisoners, including Sufyan bin Qumo, who heads the Ansar al-Shariah Islamist group blamed by the American for the U.S. embassy attack.
  • "In Libya it's only been a year and the idea of democracy and political parties is difficult for people to absorb. The people have not responded to this imported, packaged democracy. We don't accept it. We have a religion that needs to be taken into account," said Azouz, an English teacher who belongs to one of Derna's most prominent families.
  • For the Islamist groups, which are part of a Salafi movement whose members try to model their lives on the early followers of the Prophet Mohammad, the legitimacy of the newborn Libyan state is highly questionable."It's the revolution that made the state and some of the opportunists who did not participate in the revolution or shed any blood for the revolution are the ones who are forcing their orders on us," Azouz said.
  • "The solution is to draft an Islamic constitution ... and set up Sharia courts so that people can trust that this state is a true Islamic state,"
  • Some jihadists are already preparing for what they see is an inevitable showdown with those who seek to turn Libya into an "apostate" nation. They can see no compromise with an infidel West bent on changing Libya's Islamic identity.
  • The deep streak of radicalism in eastern Libya that fed on the neglect of towns such as Derna during the Gaddafi era is still strong these days. Many jihadists say the country's new rulers are favoring Tripoli just as the former dictator did.
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    Complicated dynamics
Ed Webb

Two Weeks in January: America's secret engagement with Khomeini - BBC News - 0 views

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    The secret engagement between the US and Khomeini in the days before the victory of the Iranian revolution
Ed Webb

Iran - Salon.com - 0 views

  • he difficulty for Khamenei is that the Green Movement opposing his actions also wraps itself in the mantle of Khomeini's Islamic Revolution and will be marching to celebrate that revolution. They just insist that the Islamic Republic's constitution guarantees the right of public protest (correct) and that it exalts the rule of law over the personal whim of a monarch (also correct).
  • (Iran is notoriously hard to organize, being a set of mostly medium-sized cities separated by vast distances and arid, often craggy terrain; Khomeini used the radio, sending signals through BBC interviews, and audio cassette tapes, which followers played in private or in taxis beyond the hearing of the secret police of Mohammad Reza Pahlevi, the shah.)
Ed Webb

US-Arab disconnect: Revolutions restate region's priorities by Ramzy Baroud* - 0 views

  • the language spoken by the US and that by Arab dictators is largely absent from the lexicon of oppressed, ordinary Arabs aspiring for their long-denied basic rights. Arabs are not unified by the narratives of al-Qaeda or the US. They are united by other factors that often escape Western commentators and officials. Aside from shared histories, religions, language and a collective sense of belonging, they also have in common their experiences of oppression, alienation, injustice and inequality.
  • the al-Qaeda model never captured the imagination of mainstream Arab society. Arab revolutions didn’t challenge Arab society’s perception of al-Qaeda, for the latter had barely occupied even a tiny space of the collective Arab imagination.
Ed Webb

Tunisia - between instability and renewal | European Council on Foreign Relations - 0 views

  • Even though the 2011 revolution was motivated in large part by socio-economic concerns, the governments that have held office since then have been unable to improve the situation. Growth has remained low, and unemployment is high: 15 percent of the population is without work, and the rate for those with a university degree is over 30 percent. Inequality between the more prosperous coastal region and the deprived interior of the country remains striking. Around half of all workers are employed in the informal economy. Many young Tunisians lack any prospect of being able to afford a home or a car, or of being secure enough to start a family.
  • Faced with increasing debt and deficit levels and shrinking foreign currency reserves, Tunisia agreed a loan of $2.9 billion with the International Monetary Fund in 2016. The IMF called on Tunisia to cut public spending, overhaul its collection of taxes to raise government revenue, and allow the currency to depreciate. The IMF argues that it has been fairly flexible so far in enforcing public spending cuts, but it is now stepping up its pressure on the Tunisian authorities.
  • Wages in the public sector account for 15 percent of GDP (up from 10 percent in 2010), so it is hardly surprising that the government is now trying to limit spending in this area. Yet it is doing this at a time when inflation (worsened by the deflation of the Tunisian dinar that the IMF has promoted) and subsidy cuts have already had a severe impact on people’s purchasing power.
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  • It is an anomaly of the Tunisian political scene that the UGTT’s anti-austerity position has little representation among elected politicians: the largest political groups (the Islamist Ennahda party and various offshoots of the secular-modernist Nidaa Tounes party) have backed the IMF agreement
  • unemployment and the proliferation of grey-sector jobs are linked to structural biases in the economy that systematically favour a small group of politically connected businesses. Measures that might address this problem include increasing access to credit for would-be entrepreneurs, changing regulations and practices within the public and banking sectors that are tilted to a narrow elite, and reducing corruption. According to Tunisians, corruption has not been reduced but only “democratised” since the revolution. Investment in infrastructure serving disadvantaged parts of the country could also help spur more inclusive growth
  • Since the revolution, the overarching priority of political life in Tunisia has been to seek enough stability to preserve and complete the political transition. Much has been achieved, though a few important steps (notably the establishment of a Constitutional Court) remain unfulfilled. But Tunisia has now reached a point where the greatest threat to stability is no longer political rivalries around religious identity but unmet social and economic aspirations. Until now, the country’s political parties have not organised themselves to offer distinctive and coherent visions of how Tunisia’s socio-economic development can be improved, and they are paying the price in public alienation from the entire political system
Ed Webb

Sisi's final act: Six years on, and Egypt remains unbowed | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • For three weeks Sisi’s image has been trashed by an insider turned whistleblower whose videos from self-exile in Spain have gripped and paralysed Egypt in turn. 
  • Mohamed Ali is, by his own admission, no hero. One of only 10 contractors the army uses, he is corrupt. He also only left Egypt with his family and fortune because his bills had not been paid. Ali is no human rights campaigner. 
  • Egypt’s new folk hero likes fast cars, acting, film producing, real estate developing.
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  • when he talks he talks the language of the street and the street listens to him. That's Sisi's problem.  
  • Sisi  was a "failed man", a "disgrace", a "midget" who uses make up and hitches his trousers up too high, Ali told Egypt. Sisi was a con man who lectured you on the need to tighten your belt while building palaces for his wife Intissar.
  • Ali listed them: a luxury house in Hilmiya ($6m), a presidential residence in Alexandria ($15m), a palace in the new administrative capital, and another one in the new Alamein city west of Alexandria.
  • A report published by the World Bank in April calculated that "some 60 percent of Egypt’s population is either poor or vulnerable". 
  • Most Egyptians have seen their real incomes fall, while Egypt under its IMF-backed austerity programme is racking up huge foreign debts. It was $43bn during Morsi’s presidency. It is $106bn now. Seventy per cent of taxes now goes into paying these debts off. Internal debt is over 5 trillion Egyptian pounds ($306bn).
  • Every Egyptian remembers the lectures Sisi gave them on the need to tighten their belts. When the IMF forced the state to reduce subsidies, Sisi’s response was: "I know that the Egyptian people can endure more... We must do it. And you’ll have to pay; you’ll have to pay," Sisi said in one unscripted rant a year into his presidency.
  • "Now you say we are very poor, we must be hungry. Do you get hungry? You spend billions that are spilt on the ground. Your men squander millions. I am not telling a secret. You are a bunch of thieves."
  • Ali’s YouTube channel has done more in three weeks to destroy Sisi’s image than the Brotherhood, liberals and leftists, now all crushed as active political forces in Egypt, have done in six years of political protest. 
  • To their credit the opposition did not crumble, paying for their stand with their lives and their freedom. To their shame the Egyptian people did not listen.
  • Sisi thinks he can ride this out, as he has done challenges in the past. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested since last Friday.
  • The initial demonstration in Tahrir Square in January 2011 was smaller than the ones that broke out in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria last Friday. They called for reform, not the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Last Friday, Sisi’s portrait was torn down. “Say it, don’t be afraid, Sisi has to leave!” they shouted on day one of this fresh revolt. 
  • the "opposition" is everybody - ordinary Egyptians, disaffected junior ranks in the army, Mubarak era businessmen. This is a wide coalition of forces. Once again Egypt has been reunited by a tyrant
  • unlike 2013, Sisi’s bankers  - Saudi Arabia and the UAE - have run out of cash for Egypt. Today each has its own problems and foreign interventions which are all turning sour - Yemen and Libya.
  • The steam is running out of the counter-revolution.
  • popular protest is re-emerging as a driver for change across the region. We have seen it topple dictators in Sudan and Algeria. Both have learned the lessons of failed coups in the past and have so far managed the transition without surrendering the fruits of revolution to the army. This, too, has an effect on events in Egypt.
Ed Webb

Will the U.S.-Saudi Arabia Relationship Ever Reach a Breaking Point? - 1 views

  • Again and again, the unlikely partners would fall out—usually over the Arab-Israeli conflict, much later over the 9/11 attacks. But the fundamental bargain struck by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and then-King Ibn Saud in the waning days of World War II that consummated the U.S.-Saudi relationship 75 years ago would never break
  • lawmakers in oil states such as Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Alaska accuse Saudi Arabia of waging “economic warfare” and have drafted legislation to immediately pull out U.S. troops and furl up a decades-old U.S. security umbrella that has protected the vulnerable Saudi state
  • many in Washington are coming to question the very fundamentals that have underpinned a very special bilateral relationship for 75 years—essentially, U.S. security to ensure the free flow of Saudi oil and Saudi support for U.S. designs in the Middle East
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  • Today’s tensions stem, in many ways, from the original foundations of the odd-couple relationship: an oil-for security bargain that always sought, but never fully managed, to bridge the divide between a liberal democracy and a conservative religious monarchy
  • Some experts believe U.S.-Saudi ties will ultimately weather the storm, as they always have, because of the need for a large, wealthy, and anti-Iran anchor for U.S. interests in the Middle East
  • “But we don’t need the Saudis anymore—this comes in a very different geopolitical environment than previous crises.”
  • Saudi Arabia was one of the only countries in the world that continued to receive U.S. Lend-Lease aid after the end of the war.
  • essentially underwriting the security of an oil-rich desert sheikdom to keep oil supplies flowing—and to keep the Soviets out of the Middle East.
  • Roosevelt had met Ibn Saud hoping for Saudi support for a Jewish homeland in the Middle East, which the king vehemently opposed, and the U.S. president—in Saudi eyes—gave his word not to press the matter. But Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, eventually supported the creation of Israel, sowing years of distrust and cries of betrayal in Saudi Arabia
  • “In my conversations with the king, the crown prince, and the deputy crown prince, they favored the effort to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But they wanted more: They wanted us to push on Iran’s actions in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and we didn’t do that.”
  • The Iranian revolution, as well as an assault that same year on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, terrified Saudi leadership, who saw how vulnerable their own position was. The revolution, by removing the shah and creating permanent enmity with the United States, left Saudi Arabia as America’s main linchpin in the Middle East, all the bad blood from the oil embargo notwithstanding
  • Fearful of being toppled by religious radicals, Saudi leaders embraced a much more conservative line and empowered hard-line religious leaders in their own country, the first steps toward a decadeslong program to export the austere Wahhabi brand of Islam particular to the kingdom. Soon, wealthy Saudis, including one Osama bin Laden, started funding the Muslim mujahideen who were fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that began the same year as the Iranian revolution. Two decades later, that Saudi lurch toward a harsher official line on religion would end up creating the biggest crisis yet in the special relationship.
  • “The relationship never really recovered from 9/11,”
  • the George W. Bush administration, despite vehement Saudi objections, decided to invade Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. Saudis feared that would open the door to greater Iranian influence on their doorstep, as in fact happened.
  • In the end, the United States and Saudi Arabia patched up the dispute, and the oil embargo ended by the spring of 1974. But the scars it left were deep and long-lasting, permanently damaging Saudi Arabia’s image in American popular opinion, and leaving deep-rooted fears that the Saudis could and would use their oil weapon to damage U.S. interests—a fear that has persisted even though the nature of the Saudi oil threat has changed.
  • “King Abdullah was very respectful and liked Obama personally, but there were things they couldn’t understand,” said Westphal, who was present for three of Obama’s record four trips to Saudi Arabia. “‘Why are you supporting Maliki, who is essentially handing over his country to the Iranians? How can you not depose Assad?’”
  • Since 1979, Saudi leaders had seen Iran as the gravest threat to the region and their own security, and U.S. efforts to reach a nuclear deal while seemingly letting Iran continue its destabilizing behavior in the region unsettled the Saudis.
  • “There’s no question that the Arab Spring unsettled the U.S. relationship with the Saudis. For them, the U.S. response [to calls for reform in the Arab world] was way too sympathetic, and the relationship cooled,”
  • Saudi leaders famously rolled out the red carpet, and a glowing orb, for Trump’s first overseas trip as president. It seemed a surprising about-face after Trump’s attacks on Muslims, and repeated attacks on Saudi Arabia, on the campaign trail, when he accused the kingdom of carrying out 9/11, criticized it for sponging off American protection, and threatened an economic boycott. Saudi leaders were happy to overlook Trump’s comments, eager to forge ties with an untested and unorthodox president before other foreign leaders could. “Washington is like Rome in the Roman Empire, and we are like a satellite state—you pay homage to the emperor,” Shihabi said. “You could put a monkey in the White House, and we’d pay homage.”
  • The playbook that has reliably worked since 1945 to ground the bilateral ties in personal relationships with the president now seems to be backfiring. Mohammed bin Salman, reviled by many in Congress for his alleged role in the Khashoggi killing, as well as other continued human rights abuses inside Saudi Arabia and in Yemen, is seen as being exceptionally close to Kushner and Trump. Riding the coattails of a historically unpopular, already-impeached president isn’t the best way to improve Saudi Arabia’s image.
  • Despite decades of close economic ties and military and counterterrorism cooperation, Saudi Arabia never seemed to plant deep roots in the United States that would institutionalize the relationship beyond kings, generals, and presidents. This meant when tensions flared up between the two countries, Riyadh didn’t have many outside allies to come to its defense in Washington
  • Mohammed bin Salman’s foreign-policy excesses: the disastrous war in Yemen, the bizarre virtual kidnapping of Lebanon’s prime minister to pressure Iran and Hezbollah, and an embargo on Qatar, its small neighbor and a key U.S. military partner. At home, there was the regular drumbeat of reports on human rights violations, plus a $100 billion shakedown on wealthy political rivals to consolidate power under the guise of an anti-corruption campaign.
  • As long as they’ve been a country—they’re so young—they really don’t know what their place in the world would be like without the backing of the United States,”
  • Unlike in 1973, when Saudi Arabia used the oil weapon to jack up oil prices and hurt the United States, this time crashing oil prices did the trick. U.S. shale producers need oil prices above $40 a barrel to break even; the Russian-Saudi price war sent the price of oil to $25 and then into the single digits, ensuring a wave of bankruptcies and economic hardship from Texas to North Dakota.
  • “The Saudis have a deep problem with the Democrats, and that’s been clear for a long time. Now they have spoiled their relationship with Republicans,”
  • In the summer of 2019, when Iranian attacks on oil tankers near the Persian Gulf threatened the flow of oil, Trump’s response was to tell allies such as Japan and South Korea to protect their own ships, questioning why the United States should continue to carry out a mission it’s done for decades unless other countries coughed up cash. That fall, key Saudi oil facilities were attacked, allegedly by Iran, knocking out 5 percent of global oil production in a matter of minutes. The U.S. response, other than a Trump tweet, was to do nothing.
  • The bitter recriminations during this spring’s oil price war, coming on the heels of the Khashoggi murder, the continued war in Yemen, and other Saudi missteps, give many observers reason to believe that the relationship is due for a fundamental rethink.
  • as long as the United States continues to view Iran as a major threat, close relations with Saudi Arabia will have a strong appeal
Ed Webb

Welcome to the Syrian Jihad - By Marc Lynch | Foreign Policy - 0 views

  • in today's Arab world, there is nothing particularly distinctive about his comments at all. For many months, Arab and Muslim figures of all stripes have been loudly calling for support to the predominantly Sunni Syrian rebels, as have many Arab governments (and the United States and its allies, of course). The Muslim Brotherhood's branches have strongly supported the Syrian opposition -- acquiring too much power along the way, in the minds of some. Egyptian Salafis have described providing arms and funds to the Syrian rebels as "a form of worship" and killing Assad as a religious obligation. As the killing and destruction has escalated, such support for Syria's rebels has rapidly morphed into extreme anti-Shiite and anti-Alawi rhetoric
  • In January 2007, for example, he tried to use his influence to rein in spiraling sectarian rage following the execution of Saddam Hussein. At that time, Qaradawi was only weeks past a controversial appearance at a Doha conference on Sunni-Shiite relations, in which he had made a number of controversial remarks viewed by many as overly provocative toward the Shiite. But at that crucial moment, Qaradawi invited former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani on al-Jazeera to push back against the rabid sectarianism then roiling the Middle East.
  • Qaradawi has long been described as among the most influential clerics in the Sunni world. A savvy political opportunist, he has long been one of the best barometers for the mood of a major swathe of the Arab mainstream, uncannily attuned to shifts in the political mood. He cleverly triangulated Arab politics, adopting populist positions on foreign policy while pushing for democratic reforms across the region and advancing a "centrist" Islamist ideology. In recent years, the Egyptian-born cleric has strongly supported most of the Arab uprisings, including a controversial late February 2011 appeal to Libya's army to kill Muammar al-Qaddafi.  In Egypt, he was welcomed the Friday following Mubarak's fall to lead prayer and deliver a pro-revolutionary speech in Tahrir. But he disappointed many observers by describing Bahrain's uprising as "sectarian," in line with the Arab Gulf country's collective stance intended to delegitimize it.
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  • Team Saudi is now celebrating Qaradawi's capitulation to their own anti-Hezbollah, anti-Shiite prejudices. No words could have been sweeter to Qaradawi's Saudi critics than his recent reversal on Hezbollah: "I defended the so-called Nasrallah and his party, the party of tyranny... in front of clerics in Saudi Arabia. It seems that the clerics of Saudi Arabia were more mature than me."
  • Qaradawi's alignment with the Saudi position has less to do with his theology or his personal views on the Shiites than with his calculation of regional political trends
  • His core doctrine of wasatiyya was always better understood as "centrism" than as "moderation" (whatever that might mean)
  • like it or not, his broad themes -- such as support for "resistance" from Palestine to Iraq, criticism of al Qaeda, calls for democracy, denunciations of most Arab regimes, and conservative social values -- generally seemed to reflect mainstream Arab political views.
  • Like al-Jazeera, Qaradawi's stances now seem to more closely follow Qatari foreign policy, and his influence has waned along with his host station and Qatar itself, which has experienced a regional backlash
  • Qaradawi now finds himself speaking to a narrower, more partisan audience. What does it say about his influence that his preferred candidate in Egypt's presidential election, the former Muslim Brotherhood leader and Islamist reformist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, won less than 20 percent of the vote?
  • Qaradawi can no longer claim to speak to a broadly unified Arab public because such a creature no longer exists
  • The proliferation of media outlets and assertive new voices that define the new Arab public sphere tend to undermine any efforts to claim the center ground
  • Qaradawi has opted to join the bandwagon rather than try to pull Sunni-Shiite relations back toward coexistence. He clearly calculates that anti-Shiite sectarianism in support of the Syrian insurgency is both strategically useful and a political winner.  And those in the Gulf and in the West eager for any opportunity to hurt Iran seem happy to go along
Michael Fisher

Turkey and Egypt Look to Team Up Amid Tumult - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    "Each country seems to need the other in an alliance that could shape the region for decades to come and help it emerge from the tumult of Arab revolutions."
Ed Webb

Who in the GCC wants a union? - 0 views

  • Citing “security problems, economic challenges and other serious issues confronted by the region,” Bahrain’s Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa recently announced that the transformation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to a union is an “inevitable goal” of this month’s Manama Dialogue (Dec. 9-11).
  • With absolutely no illusions that Oman — historically the most independent member of the GCC — has changed its position, last month Ghanem al-Buainain, Bahrain’s minister of Parliament Affairs, stated that he sensed “great enthusiasm for the union from the other Gulf members.”
  • Many non-Saudis in the GCC view Saudi Arabia as an important ally, yet they also see the oil-rich kingdom as an overbearing neighbor who does not always respect the smaller Arab Gulf states’ sovereignty. Due to a host of domestic issues in the GCC and regional developments, which the Arab Gulf families see through different lenses, Riyadh and Manama officials may see their plan for a union falling on deaf ears.
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  • Kuwait is the GCC state with the most vibrant political life and democratic institutions. Opposition to a union from Kuwait is largely attributable to concerns about “collective security actions” that Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states could pursue to silence dissent and activism in Kuwait. Last month’s snap elections in Kuwait will bring in parliamentarians to the National Assembly from an opposition made up of liberals and Islamists whom other GCC states would not permit to hold any position of power in their own political systems. As many Kuwaitis take pride in their “half-democracy” and relative transparency and openness, the concept of a union has met its share of resistance in the country from voices across its political spectrum.
  • Doha has established ties with Islamist factions throughout the region and hosted many Muslim Brotherhood members — often done so at the expense of healthy relations with other GCC states. If other Arab Gulf countries such as the UAE, which designate the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist” group, and Qatar belong to a union, what will be the future of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and other prominent Islamist figures who live in Doha?
  • Emiratis view themselves as a rival of Saudi Arabia for a dominant role in the region’s financial landscape, Abu Dhabi would not lend its support to a Riyadh-based Gulf central bank. In the UAE, where the authorities are waging a crackdown on Islamists, there has long been a belief that the Muslim Brotherhood operates in the Emirates on behalf of Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the purpose of undermining the UAE’s national sovereignty and independence.
  • Oman’s interest in deepening ties with Iran in commercial, diplomatic, energy and security spheres is a major factor driving Omani opposition to a union
  • Given the Kuwaiti and Qatari royal families’ cordial relationship with their countries’ Shiites who are loyal to the Al Sabah (Kuwait) and Al Thani (Qatar) rulers, threats of an Iranian-inspired Shiite revolution or rebellion have not provoked substantial sectarian tension in Kuwait since the end of the first Gulf war, nor has it ever done so in Qatar at any point following Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s rise to power in 1979. This outlook fundamentally contrasts with Saudi Arabia’s and Bahrain’s outlook, which is based on an understanding of Iran being a predatory state committed to toppling the Al Sauds and Al Khalifas through a violent revolution. Manama and Riyadh’s shared view of the Islamic Republic as an existential threat has closely aligned the two kingdoms and led Bahrain to maintain its strong support for a de facto Saudi-led union.
  • the option of perhaps one day importing Iranian gas may receive greater consideration if they remain relatively independent from Saudi Arabia in the framework of a council (not union) and their economic ills increase their interest in importing more natural gas. Yet a union would erase any realistic Kuwaiti or Emirati plans for signing gas contracts with Iran
  • there are grave concerns in the GCC about the US’ long-term commitment as the council’s security guarantor
Sana Usman

Twin suicide car bomb blasts shakes Syrian capital - 0 views

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    Damascus, Syria: Twin suicide car bomb blasts shakes Syrian capital that exploded outside a military intelligence house in Damascus and slaughtered 55 people, throwing distorted bodies in the streets, were the most deadliest hit against a government target since the Syrian revolution began 14 months ago.
Ed Webb

Gauging Arab public opinion - Opinion - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • Organised by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), face-to-face interviews by Arab surveyors with 16,731 individuals in the first half of 2011 revealed majority support for the goals of the Arab revolutions and notably, for a democratic system of government.
  • by a 15-1 ratio, Israel and the US are seen as more threatening than Iran
  • there's clearly a trans-national, trans-border public consensus when it comes to questions of identity and national priorities
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  • Three quarters of those polled believe that Arab states should take measures to bring their nations closer. An equal percentage believes that states should lift restrictions on free travel and 67 per cent are not satisfied with Arab-Arab co-operation
  • 73 per cent of those polled see Israel and the US as the two most threatening countries. Five per cent see Iran as the most threatening, a percentage that varies between countries and regions
  • 84 per cent believe the Palestinian question is the cause of all Arabs
  • 84 per cent reject the notion of their state's recognition of Israel and only 21 per cent support, to a certain degree, the peace agreement signed between Egypt, Jordan and the PLO with Israel
  • Less than a third agree with their government's foreign policy
  • 55 per cent support a region free of nuclear weapons
  • While people are generally supportive of democracy, a minority doesn't truly understand or accept its main tenets. A relatively high 36 per cent wouldn't support those they disagree with in their political platform to take power, a percentage that doesn't bode well for democracy. This shows that while there is an intention to move towards pluralism among most people, there is resistance to pluralism and diversity among a certain minority.
  • an annual sequel to this poll, as promised by ACRPS, is indispensable for better understanding of Arab thinking beyond mood swings and abrupt changes
  • To what degree Arab respondents express their minds freely and without any fear remains to be seen. However, for the first time in decades, people seem more willing and able to share their political sentiments, thanks to the revolutions.
  • 577 comments
Ed Webb

Egypt's new leader going to Iran; first presidential visit in decades - Chicago Sun-Times - 0 views

  • “This really signals the first response to a popular demand and a way to increase the margin of maneuver for Egyptian foreign policy in the region,” said political scientist Mustafa Kamel el-Sayyed. “Morsi’s visits ... show that Egypt’s foreign policy is active again in the region.” “This is a way also to tell Gulf countries that Egypt is not going to simply abide by their wishes and accept an inferior position,”
  • Morsi will visit Tehran on Aug. 30 on his way back from China to attend the Non-Aligned Movement Summit, where Egypt will transfer the movement’s rotating leadership to Iran
  • In 2006, Mubarak angered Shiite leaders by saying Shiites across the Middle East were more loyal to Iran than to their own countries. His view was shared by other Arab leaders and officials, including Jordan’s King Abdullah II who warned of a Shiite crescent forming in the region.
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  • While nearly three decades of Mubarak rule left Egyptians inundated with state-spun scenarios of Iranian plots aiming to destabilize the country, many sympathize with Iran’s Islamic revolution and consider Tehran’s defiance of the United States a model to follow. Others seek a foreign policy at the very least more independent of Washington.
  • Aware of the Gulf states’ anxieties over the rise of political Islam in post-Mubarak Egypt, Morsi has focused on courting Saudi Arabia. He visited it twice, once just after he won the presidency, and a second time during the Islamic summit. In an attempt to assuage fears of the Arab uprisings by oil monarchs, he vowed that Egypt does not want to “export its revolution”. He has also asserted commitment to the security of Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies, a thinly veiled reference to the tension between them and Iran.
Ed Webb

"In Assad's Syria, There Is No Imagination" | Syria Undercover | FRONTLINE | PBS - 1 views

  • In their ambition at least, the Arab revolts and revolutions were about a positive sort of legitimacy: democracy, freedom, social justice and individual rights. They remain an unfulfilled promise, but no one in Egypt, Tunisia or Libya is really afraid to speak anymore. The cacophony that has ensued is the most liberating feature of rejuvenated societies. It already echoes in parts of Syria. When I was in Hama this summer, a city still scarred by memory and for a brief moment freed from security forces, youths embraced their new space by protesting every couple of hours in streets made kinetic by the allure of self-determination. They demonstrated simply because they could. In Homs, a city whose uprising could prove Syria’s demise or salvation, youths drawn from an eclectic array of leftists, liberals, nationalists, Islamists and the simply pissed-off articulated the essence of courage: They had come too far to go back.
  • I’m a person now
  • “We’re not waiting to live our lives until after the fall of the regime,” he went on. “We started living them the first day of the protests.”
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  • A Tunisian Islamist named Said Ferjani told me a few weeks ago that such safeguards and guarantees would require what he called “a charismatic state.” It was the antithesis of all those sempiternal leaders, presiding over imperiums with hollow slogans and manipulating society’s components with cynicism portrayed as principle. A charismatic state could mend itself, reform, adapt and heal when it failed in its fundamental task, delivering the rights and duties of citizenship. And only in citizenship, he told me, could diversity be preserved and protected. Citizenship, he seemed to suggest, would permit us to become greater than our parts. It would allow us to imagine.
  • There may someday be a vision for Syria and the Middle East that draws on their past, where ancient trajectories of the Ottoman Empire stitched together a landscape that often embraced its many identities. There is probably a future in which loyalties are less to the state and more to those antique metropoles like Aleppo, Tripoli, Mosul or Beirut, which often answered questions of community better than the contrived countries that absorbed them. The term might be post-Ottoman, where borders that never made all that much sense are encompassed by connections from Cairo to Istanbul, Maydan to Basra, and Marjayoun to Arish, in which people can imagine themselves as Alawite, Levantine, Arab, Syrian, Eastern — or some hybrid that transcends them all.
  • Syria is still subsumed in the logic of fear, which forces once diverse societies to hew to their smaller parts, obliterating the ability to imagine broader communities and other identities. Beyond a set of principles, or promises so vague as to inspire more fear, no one has described the Syria of tomorrow. Not Assad, who offers his people a path back to the 1980s, when a stern government presided over a dreary economy with the grimace of a police state. But the opposition hasn’t really either, and that lack of vision has left frightened minorities more aligned with the regime.
  • entitlement, ownership, power and fear
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%).
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