All analyses in chronological order - Afro-Middle East Centre

By Ghassan Izzi

The Syrian uprising has placed Hizbullah in a predicament in terms of its ability to maintain its alliance with the Syrian regime and also enjoy the sympathy of the Arab people, especially that of the Syrians These issues may be understood through a number of indicators. There have been suggestions that Hizbullah is attempting to support the perpetuation of the Syrian regime but is, at the same time, preparing for a post-Asad Syria.

 

By the Afro-Middle East Centre

Events of the past few days in Egypt point to a clash within the political elite; it is, however, not likely to be a dramatic confrontation but a slow war of attrition stretching over the next few years. At the heart of the battle is the attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's first democratically-elected president, Muhammad Mursi, to relocate state executive powers within the presidency and legislative powers within the democratically-elected parliament.

By Afro-Middle East Centre
The audacious bombing of the high-level crisis cell meeting of Syrian President Bashar al Asad’s inner-circle last week that left four of Asad’s closest aides dead, had Syrian opposition groups elatedly proclaiming ‘the beginning of the end’ of the Asad regime. This was echoed by much of western media, which loudly forecast the imminent ousting of the Syrian president.

By ‘Izzat Shahrour

The use of China's veto over the Syrian crisis demonstrates that it no longer needs to sit on the fence on such international issues. In other words, there is no ambivalence on China’s part; it is decisive in its actions and no longer desires to either please everyone or to provoke anyone. China had previously maintained diplomatic relationships with smaller countries in order to gain support against Taiwan at the United Nations, or more generally to defend China against criticism of its human rights record. China is now recognised as an emerging international power especially after it asserted itself as a major economic force. Its strategic interests have changed and with that its relations with other major powers. These developments have effected a change in its policies and diplomatic conduct.

By the Afro-Middle East Centre

The sixteen month long Syrian uprising hit a critical juncture last Friday, 22 June, when Syria downed an unarmed Turkish F4 Phantom plane. An enraged Turkey maintained the plane was shot down in international airspace after it had only momentarily, and accidentally, strayed into Syrian territory while on a training sortie. Syria, which immediately admitted it had shot down the plane, countered that the plane had been gunned down over Syrian territory and that its forces had acted to protect its sovereignty. Although the incident has potentially changed the rules of engagement between Turkey and Syria, it is by no means a game changer for either.

By Zeenat Sujee

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) uprisings have brought to the fore numerous human rights issues. Several studies1 have found that a number of countries are not fully compliant in upholding their international obligations - according to the various human rights treaties and conventions. In the MENA region, in particular, many countries have experienced political changes which have had a detrimental effect on the implementation of certain rights, not least of which are the rights of refugees.

 

A 'Fat-free' Egyptian president

  • 22 June, 2012
  • Published in Egypt

By Abdel Bari Atwan

The resolutions and practices of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) have proven day after day that when it intervened to force President Husni Mubarak to step down, it was not serving the revolution as many (including myself) believed but was rather seizing power in a white revolution that was planned with utmost precision in accordance with scenarios that relied upon a gradual approach to abort the revolution and keep Egypt hostage to American obedience.

By Heidi-Jane Esakov

Israeli Knesset member Danny Danon of the ruling Likud Party, who is chairperson of a xenophobic organisation called Deportation Now, recently spoke at a rally inciting the xenophobic riots in Tel Aviv. He said of foreigners, mainly African migrants and refugees: 'The infiltrators are a national plague and we must deport them immediately before it's too late. The Sudanese can go back to Sudan and the rest should be deported to other countries in Africa and eastern Europe.'

Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Israeli Knesset, Haneen Zoabi, called Israel's reference to itself as a Jewish state 'inherently racist' and contested Israel's claims to being a democracy during her recent visit to South Africa hosted by the Afro-MiddleEastCentre(AMEC).

Zoabi was in South Africa from 13 to 22April2012 to address a series of public seminars and participate in meetings with representatives of government, parliament and the African National Congress. She met both international relations deputy ministers, party chief whips in parliament and members of the international relations portfolio committee. She also met key personalities in labour unions, civil society organisations and Palestinian solidarity groups. Zoabi also gave numerous media interviews during her visit.

By the Afro-Middle East Centre

Introduction

Even Israelis accustomed to the erratic nature of their political system, characterised by often-precarious coalition governments, were stunned to wake up to the news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) had cancelled the early election he had only just called for. In a surprise move - at least to the public - on 8 May 2012, Netanyahu signed a coalition agreement with Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), who had not only previously called Netanyahu a 'liar' but had vowed never to enter into a coalition with the Prime Minister.

By Ali Hussein Bakir

 Turkey approaches the Syrian crisis through a series of factors that it considers to be basic axioms. Among these is that the Syrian situation is a regional and international responsibility and not solely that of Turkey but that Turkey may intervene if it regards the Syrian crisis as a Turkish national security risk.

 

Oil burns both Sudanese states

  • 02 May, 2012
  • Published in Sudan

 By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

Sudan's recapture of the oil-rich area of Heglig from South Sudan has restored the relations between the two states to the formerly prevailing fragile balance, one that may erupt once again into conflict. In this round of conflict, the war was waged over an issue of outstanding disagreement centring on oil. Juba is still looking for a route other than that offered by the northern state of Sudan to export its oil wealth, primarily motivated in this quest by domestic issues. Khartoum, on the other hand, has yet to regain its economic balance after the loss of most of its oil wealth in the wake of South Sudan's secession. Behind this conflict about oil revenues lie other sources of unresolved tension that are not any less important. All these issues may serve to threaten the fragile balance between the two states.

 

By Afro-Middle East Centre

The uprisings that spread across the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region from the beginning of 2011 not only caught global and regional powers unaware, but also upturned seemingly entrenched regimes that had maintained a veneer of strategic stability for western powers. In the ensuing tumult of uprisings that saw a re-shuffling of alliances and power blocs, spaces opened for regional players to jostle to assert their agendas and scramble for ascendancy. In the ensuing scuffle, few would have predicted that tiny Qatar would emerge alongside Iran and Turkey as a significant player. Interestingly, because of the physical diminutiveness of the state with a native population of only 225 000, its strategic influence and potential was previously largely overlooked. This has been to Qatar's advantage, allowing it – and its extensive role in the uprisings – to evade the sort of global scrutiny that its positions and actions might otherwise have attracted.

 

By Fred H. Lawson

United States strategic planners are carrying out a fundamental reconfiguration of America's military presence throughout the world. The shift came to light in November 2011, when President Barack Obama announced that some 2 500 US Marines would take up permanent positions at a training base on the northern tip of Australia. It was underscored in January 2012 when the president appeared at the Pentagon for the release of an extraordinary guidance document with the striking title 'Sustaining United States Global Leadership: Priorities for the Twenty-First Century Defined'. The revised strategic posture earmarks more US military resources to East Asia in general and the South China Sea littoral in particular.

 By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

Tensions surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme have risen again, but the main determinants of the issue remain largely the same as they had previously been. As before, these determinants will most likely reduce the chances of a war being waged against Iran. New factors – particularly the upcoming elections in the United States – will act as additional restraints preventing the launch of military operations against Iran in 2012.

By Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn

Recent events in Afghanistan have fuelled speculation over the ability of international forces to continue their presence in the country until 2014. In January 2012, four American Marines in Helmand were shown in a video urinating on Afghan corpses. In February, in a case that appears to have been no more than exceedingly poor judgement, copies of the Qur'an were burnt, damaged and treated disrespectfully manner. In March, a US army staff sergeant in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province is believed to have killed seventeen individuals (many of them women and children) in a single night.

Dangerous uncertainty in Pakistan

By Junaid S. Ahmed

With relations between Pakistan's civilian government and military incredibly tense, speculation is rife in the Pakistani and international media of a looming military takeover. The military is allegedly buoyed by support of the Supreme Court and the country's business and political elite. However, the nature of events is changing at such a fast pace that it is difficult to predict the future.

The tenuous relationship between the government and the military appears to have finally eased somewhat since the government markedly toned down its anti-military rhetoric. Indeed, Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani has extended an olive branch of sorts to the military. He had previously accused Army Chief of Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the head of Pakistan's principal intelligence agency, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, of acting unconstitutionally when they expressed their alleged disapproval of the government. Just before Gilani left for the World Economic Forum in Davos in the middle of February, he attempted to smooth over the difficulties with his comment that he wanted to 'dispel the impression that the military leadership acted unconstitutionally or violated rules... The current situation cannot afford conflict among the institutions.'

By Dr. Mohsen Saleh

Introduction

Fear of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwanal-Muslimoon), the leading Islamist movement, has gained unprecedented international prominence since the beginning of the Arab uprisings. Outside official institutions this fear is most commonly found among liberal or ‘leftist’ figures. Western media also reflect common concerns about the Brotherhood that have been expressed by politicians in both Israel and the United States.

By Afro-Middle East Centre

Introduction: Background to the uprising

Nearly nine months into the Syrian uprising, the death toll, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), has reached a staggering 5 000 people (civilians, government soldiers, army defectors and members of armed opposition groups). Despite a consistently rising death toll and continued violence, the situation has reached an impasse.

 By Laws & Processes (Jadaliyya & Ahram Online)

The following article was compiled by Jadaliyya and Ahram Online, and gives a brief and concise insightful guide to the upcoming Egyptian elections beginning on the 28th of November.

Egypt population: (est.) 85 million

Citizens eligible to vote: (approx.) 50 million

Parliamentary composition: bicameral

  • The People’s Assembly: the lower house

  • The Shura Council: upper consultative house

People’s Assembly elections: Conducted over three stages, each involving polling in nine governorates (out of total 27 governorates). Run-off elections are held a week later between front-runners in single-winner races where none of the candidates got 50%+ of the total vote.

By Dr. Mohsen Saleh

The Palestinian reconciliation agreement still lacks the necessary momentum to transform it into a practical programme that has the potential to be implemented on the ground. Sixth months have lapsed since the signing of the reconciliation agreement on 3 May 2011, yet no genuine initiatives have been presented for its implementation. This despite the fact that negotiations between Fatah and Hamas happened throughout most of 2009, and it took nearly eighteen months to respond to Hamas' objections. Although the 4 100-word draft agreement was thorough and detailed, it appears to lack any sign of life.

By Esam Al-Amin

In early 1994 a small Islamic think tank affiliated with the University of South Florida (USF) planned an academic forum to host Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the main opposition party in Tunisia, Ennahda. The objective of this annual event was to give Western academics and intellectuals a rare opportunity to engage an Islamically-oriented intellectual or political leader at a time when the political discourse was dominated by Samuel Huntington's much hyped clash of civilizations thesis. Shortly after the public announcement of the event, pro-Israeli groups and advocates led by Martin Kramer, Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, the head of the local B'nai B'rith, and a small-time journalist for the local right-wing newspaper began a coordinated campaign to discredit the event and scare the university.

ByAbdulazizAl-Heis

The decision to allow women to participate in the Shura Council and municipal councils of Saudi Arabia is an important step forward, especially given that Saudi Arabia is in dire need of any movement on this issue. At the same time, however, such a step is not expected to bring about the desired concrete and effective changes, given the limitations of the realities on the ground. Furthermore, the predominant popular and cultural impression of the Shura and municipal councils in the Kingdom is that they offer no space for any real and meaningful participation in the political decision-making of the state.

By Toufic Haddad

If the prisoner exchange deal announced on 11 October 2011 between Hamas and the Israeli government is fully implemented without major hitches, there is little question who 'won' this five-year war of wills: the deal will constitute a major victory for Hamas and the resistance-oriented political forces in Palestinian society, while simultaneously representing a significant retreat for Israel and its historical doctrines of forceful coercion and rejectionism vis-à-vis the Palestinian people and their rights.

By Afro-Middle East Centre

Introduction

Despite the chronic under-reporting on popular protests in Bahrain, the uprising in the small Gulf state that left over thirty dead and hundreds arrested in a brutal government crackdown offers a potent reading of the regional and global dynamics and interests at play. Mainstream coverage of the uprising has mostly portrayed the Bahraini uprising as an extension, or a natural continuum, of the 'Arab Spring' that has swept across the region. Even though the Bahraini protests might have found inspiration in the tidal wave of calls for democratisation elsewhere in the region, and reflect similar demands for greater freedoms and rights, such a homogeneous framing ignores the particularities of the Bahraini context, and the country's geopolitical and strategic significance. Additionally, it negates a long tradition of pro-democracy campaigns by not contextualising this uprising as an extension of extensive civic and popular protests dating back to the 1990s.

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