Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

19
Jul

Deniz Torcu es economista y máster en Estudios de la UE y en Relaciones internacionales
19.07.2016

El intento de golpe de Estado en la noche del viernes 15 de julio ha sido una sorpresa tanto para Turquía como para la comunidad internacional. A pesar de haber sobrevivido a una historia llena con golpes de Estado en el siglo pasado, nadie preveía un nuevo –y débil– intento de tomar el poder en este siglo. Una fracción del ejército turco supuestamente vinculada a Fettulah Gülen, el clérigo islámico que reside en Pensilvania desde hace décadas en un exilio autoimpuesto, trató de tomar el control del Estado de una manera bastante torpe, apenas cerrando puentes y enviando tanques a los principales aeropuertos, mientras que el objetivo principal, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, era capaz de detener tranquilamente sus vacaciones en la costa del Sur para conectar con los medios de comunicación a través de su teléfono móvil.

Nada más aterrizar con total seguridad en el aeropuerto Ataturk de Estambul, Erdogan pidió a la gente salir a las calles. Su llamada fue seguida de inmediato por miles de seguidores y tuvo el eco de numerosas mezquitas que comenzaron a llamar a la oración, para apoyar al Gobierno y luchar contra los rebeldes del Ejército. Y con las primeras luces del sábado 16, Erdogan anunció que “el Presidente y el Gobierno democráticamente elegidos están a cargo de la situación y todo terminará bien”. Al cabo de pocas horas, grandes fracciones rebeldes del ejército comenzaron a entregarse a una policía que en todo momento se mantuvo leal a Erdogan. Read more…

8
Jul

Fighters from forces aligned with Libya's new unity government fire anti-aircraft guns from their vehicles at Islamic State positions in Algharbiyat area, Sirte, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Although there has been some progress in forming a national unity government in Libya, “unity” is a rather inapplicable word for the country. In reality, friction between various political actors remains high. Ultimately, perhaps a form of disunity—confederation, rather than centralization—is the best model for Libya.

Libyan politics: A primer

During the summer of 2014, the Libyan leadership, after an initial hint of cooperation, split into two governments:

  • One, headquartered in Tobruk and based on a secular matrix, was recognized internationally. It received support from the House of Representatives and was abetted by General Khalifa Haftar and his so-called National Libyan Army. Externally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia have supported this government because of its anti-Islamist ideology. In May 2014, Haftar launched “Operation Dignity” against the Islamist militias, supported by the Zintan brigades (consisting of the Civic, al-Sawaiq, and al-Qaaqa brigades), and the militias coming from the ethnic minorities of Tebu and Fezzan.
  • The other, headquartered in Tripoli, was Islamic in nature. It was supported by the new General National Congress (GNC) and was part of the Libya Dawn group of pro-Islamist militias (which included groups from Misrata, Amazigh, and Tuareg). Qatar, Sudan, and Turkey have supported this government for different reasons, including to earn a more prominent place on the global stage or to support the Muslim Brotherhood.

But it gets more complicated, since it wasn’t just the Tobruk- and Tripoli-based governments that competed to fill the power vacuum post-Gadhafi. The constellation of militias and brigades has changed continuously. There are Salafist groups such as:

  • Ansar al-Sharia Libya (or ASL, located between Benghazi and Derna);
  • Muhammad Jamal Network (between Benghazi and Derna);
  • Al-Murabitun (in the southeast, around Ghat, Ubari, Tasawah, and Murzuq);
  • Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (or AQIM, in the southwest and northeast of Libya); and
  • Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (or AST, located between Derna and Ajdabiya). Read more…

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16
Jun

Egypt’s Importance in a Time of Troubles

Written on June 16, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Middle East, Op Ed

Paul Salem is the Vice President for Policy and Research at the Middle East Institute. This piece has been published in collaboration with the Institute. The views expressed are solely those of the author.

Since the ISIS downing of a Russian airliner over Sinai in October 2015, there has been a bustle of activity between Washington and Cairo. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been to the Egyptian capital twice, in addition to visits by high-level Congressional, military, intelligence, and business delegations. Despite continued high concern about the country’s dismal human-rights situation, there is deep awareness that Egypt needs urgent aid in its fight against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, as well as serious assistance in boosting its slow economy. There is also growing awareness that while Washington has serious and legitimate differences on a number of domestic and regional issues with almost all of its Middle Eastern allies, the United States cannot face regional challenges on its own, and must negotiate partnerships and burden-sharing with the allies it has in the region.

Egypt is indeed too big to fail, and while Cairo has a long way to go on essential economic and political reforms, it is strategically important to prevent a terrorist victory or an economic collapse in the country. Egypt faces daunting challenges, and the United States has a keen interest in helping the most populous Arab nation overcome them. After three years, the war against ISIS in Sinai grinds on with no decisive resolution in sight. The Egyptian armed forces have denied the militant jihadist group their signature goal of setting up an independent polity in northern Sinai, as ISIS has done in other countries, but this has come at a very high cost to civilians. ISIS has reverted to al-Qaeda tactics of guerilla war, but is exacting a heavy price on Egyptian military and police forces. Al-Qaeda, in the meantime, in its ambition to compete with ISIS for jihadist primacy, is urging cells and sympathizers in Egypt to take more action.  Read more…

 

Published on June 16, 2016 in realclearworld.com

23
May

The women behind Sykes-Picot

Written on May 23, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Culture & Society, Middle East

women

 

British diplomat Mark Sykes and French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot garnered most of the attention in the retrospective commentaries published around May 16, the 100-year anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Treaty.

Other pieces referred to their contemporaries, such as the British agent T E Lawrence, who led the Arab Revolt during World War I, or the influential oil broker Calouste Gulbenkian.

These Europeans sought to shape the Middle East, yet for every discussion of a European man who engaged in this endeavour, there is also a story of a European woman who both made this region, and was made by the region.

Jane Digby, Gertrude Bell, or Freya Stark, just to name a few women, led lives as illustrious as their male counterparts in the Middle East.

In terms of popular historical memory, we remember European men in the Middle East, such as archaeologists, spies, and diplomats concocting surreptitious treaties, but have forgotten the women who also engaged in such activities. Read more…
By Ibragim Al-Marashi, former professor at IE School of International Relations and currently  assistant professor at the Department of History, California State University, San Marcos. He is the co-author of “Iraq’s Armed Forces: An Analytical History.”
29
Apr

If, in 2011, the West’s view of the Arab world was grounded in optimism and exhilaration, it’s an entirely different story in 2016. Five years ago, there was still the sense that something was afoot, that the region could change into something better. There was the promise of a region based more on respect for fundamental rights, better governance and freedom – rather than one where these elements were constantly sacrificed to nepotism, autocracy and the cynical exploitation of concerns around security.

Five years on, the situation looks very different.

Now it is far more about security than ever before. It used to be that different Arab leaders would privately and publicly argue that they were better than the alternative of Islamism and that would be enough to get any concerns around fundamental rights of the table for discussion. Today, the equation is the same but different: many simply argue that the alternative to their rule is chaos. And, of course, no one wants chaos – and so the cycle continues.

But the region is not simply a place where one makes short-term exchanges between security concerns and everything else. It is a catastrophic mistake to look at the region in those terms alone.

The region is in a state of flux and the outside world needs to be more, not less, engaged with it, as it goes through an incredibly critical part of its modern history. Read more…

 

Published on April 28, 2016  in the national.ae

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