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Archive for June, 2011

Is Sharaf Unhappy with his Cabinet?

June 30th, 2011 Comments off

Al-Masry al-Youm reported this week that Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has asked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for permission to replace seven members of his Cabinet he considers working at cross-purposes to the Revolution, and has been turned down. If true — it has not, so far as I know, been confirmed — then it’s yet another suggestion that Sharaf has little real power, and the military is calling the shots. Earlier, Sharaf had suggested he supported a new constitution prior to elections, then backpedaled and played down his comment, noting it wasn’t up to him to decide.

The fact that SCAF remains for the large part silent on many subjects, at least in public, clearly conceals the degree to which it is pulling the strings. One expects some bumps in the road in any transition, and a certain amount of two-steps-forward-one-step-back, but with the clashes this week in Tahrir, there may be more and more collisions between impatient revolutionary activists and the Army. That could be troubling for the future of the transition. The clashes this week have mostly been with the Central Security Forces, not the Army, but if Sharaf cannot reform the Interior Ministry and its police elements, the honeymoon between the protesters and the Army could be nearing an end.


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The STL Indicts

June 30th, 2011 Comments off

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has finally issued the indictments for its four suspects in the Hariri case. For the moment I’m going to refer you to the always astute Qifa Nabki’s comments, since I think he captures the complexities of the situation. It’s a different world and a different Lebanon from when the STL began its work, and I’m sure the Mikati government would like it to just go away.


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Wahhabi Be-Bop (ah lol)

June 30th, 2011 Comments off


Yes, indeed, Saudis can dance to an American tune. Ah, but who’s their Papa?

Check it out on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33FDP0o3s1s&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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Categories: Arab Blogs Tags: american tune, Bop, lol, saudis, Source

Elias Murr: "Michel Sleiman is not only a weakling but also a scumbag!"

June 30th, 2011 Comments off

US-backed plan for reform leaves Bashar al-Assad in place

June 30th, 2011 Comments off

“The US is promoting a “roadmap” for political reforms in Syria which would transform the regime of Bashar al-Assad but leave him in place for now – despite demands for his overthrow during the country’s bloody three-month uprising.Syrian opposition sources have revealed that the US state department has been discreetly encouraging discussion of the unpublished draft document which circulated at an unprecedented opposition conference held on Monday in Damascus. The US ambassador is urging dialogue with the regime, the sources say.Assad would oversee what the roadmap calls “a secure and peaceful transition to civil democracy”. … 



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"Arab Shias are not an Iranian fifth column!"

June 30th, 2011 Comments off
“… Iran drew the following lesson from this: it would not be the Islamic Revolution that would advance its cause but anti-American militancy, support for the Palestinians and its new stance as the major regional power, which ensured security in the Gulf in a way that neither the Saudis nor the US had managed. This policy reached its apogee with the war in Lebanon in July 2006, when Hezbollah held its own against the Israelis and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, appeared as the new champion of the Arab cause. But everything changed with the execution of Saddam Hussein some months later. This was seen as the revenge of the Shias, supported by both the Iranians and the US.Arab Shias are not an Iranian fifth column: Shias in Iraq and Bahrain have long understood the dangers of becoming instruments of Iran. They are Iraqis and Bahrainis first and foremost and are fighting to be recognised as full citizens of the countries in which they live. But, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, they depend on Iranian patronage in a hostile Sunni environment.Saudi Arabia is behind the elaboration of a grand narrative that pits Persian Shias against Arab Sunnis and in which all Arab Shias are regarded as Arabic-speaking Persians (as well as heretics, according to Wahhabi doctrine). This is one of the rare instances in which the foreign policy of the Saudi kingdom finds a religious justification – which also explains the ambivalence that Riyadh has long shown towards hardline Sunni movements, from the Taliban to new jihadists in Fallujah. For some time now, the Palestinian question has been marginal for the Saudis. It has registered for them only in that it has created a climate in which popular opposition has flourished among Arab peoples.

The real issue, as it is for Israel, is the “Iranian menace”. Here, the prophecy could come true: in denying the Shias of Bahrain full citizenship rights, Saudi Arabia in effect confirms their status as an Iranian fifth column.

Then there is the neuralgic issue of Syria. The Syrians are the Iranians’ main allies in the region and everyone, from the Saudis to the Israelis, would celebrate the fall of the government in Damascus. Yet anxiety reigns, because the consequences of regime change, in this case, are unknowable. The idea of a stable and easily identifiable national interest that would endure while power changes hands can be applied to Tunisia or Egypt. But would it apply to Syria? What would the foreign policy of a post-Ba’athist Syria look like? It is hard to say, because the regional strategy of the Assad family has always been intimately bound up with internal political considerations.For 40 years, Damascus has followed a strategy of permanent tension with Israel, so as to present itself as the defender of Arab nationalism. But it has also pursued a form of diplomatic realpolitik that has crossed no red lines and has kept several alliances in play at the same time. Bringing the regime down would put an end to this subtle yet stable game and lead to who knows where.A fear of the unknown paralyses all of the states surrounding Syria – perhaps with the exception of Turkey, which appears to be the only neighbouring country that is preparing for the post-Assad era. It could be that, when the dust finally settles, it will be Turkey that emerges as the big winner from the current convulsions in the region and establishes itself as the new pole of stability in the Middle East. Provided, of course, that it manages to resolve the eternal Kurdish question.”



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UN-backed court issues Hariri indictment and warrants (AFP)

June 30th, 2011 Comments off

A UN-backed court issued a long-awaited indictment and arrest warrants for the 2005 murder of Lebanon's ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, seen here, with members of the powerful Hezbollah reportedly among those named.(AFP/File/Ramzi Haidar)AFP – A UN-backed court on Thursday issued a long-awaited indictment and arrest warrants for the 2005 murder of Lebanon’s ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, with members of the powerful Hezbollah reportedly among those named.

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U.N.-backed court delivers Hariri killing indictments (Reuters)

June 30th, 2011 Comments off

Workers adjust a giant billboard of Lebanon's assassinated former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri at Sidon, southern Lebanon, February 13, 2011. REUTERS/Ali HashishoReuters – A U.N.-backed tribunal seeking the killers of statesman Rafik al-Hariri handed indictments and arrest warrants to Lebanon on Thursday that officials said accused members of the militant Hezbollah group of involvement.

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Osama's 'intriguing handwritten notes' on climate change, Saudi Arabia flash floods

June 30th, 2011 Comments off

Scraps of handwritten notes reportedly recovered from Osama bin Laden's lair in Abbottabad during the May 2 US raid suggest that he may have been writing and re-writing his speeches to while away time in the confines of his compound.
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UN court issues Hariri warrants

June 30th, 2011 Comments off

Four arrest warrants have been issued by the UN-backed tribunal investigating the murder of ex-PM Rafik Hariri, Lebanon’s state prosecutor says.
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