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Top Asian News at 8:00 p.m. GMT

April 17th, 2014 No comments

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea’s southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday. Meanwhile, the coast guard said it was investigating whether the ferry’s captain was one of the first ones off the sinking ship.
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Top Asian News at 7:30 p.m. GMT

April 17th, 2014 No comments

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea’s southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday. Meanwhile, the coast guard said it was investigating whether the ferry’s captain was one of the first ones off the sinking ship.
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A Portrait of the Syrian Port City of Tartus

April 17th, 2014 No comments

From Jadaliyya, an intriguing profile of the ‘Alawite-majority Mediterranean port city of Tartus in Syria, by Khedar Khaddour: “Tartus in the Present Crisis: A Mirror of the Syrian Regime.”
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Women with Head Veils Are Being Denied Access to Bars in Egypt

April 17th, 2014 No comments

An interesting if somewhat unfair trend if true:“Why are veiled women denied entry to bars in Egypt?”

Nightclubs included, apparently.
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Algeria votes on Bouteflika’s future

April 17th, 2014 No comments

Algerians are voting in elections in which incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke last year, is seeking a fourth term.
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Iran has ‘cut uranium stock’ – IAEA

April 17th, 2014 No comments

Iran has neutralised half of its higher-enriched uranium stockpile, in keeping with a deal agreed earlier this year, the world’s nuclear watchdog says.
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Top Asian News at 10:00 a.m. GMT

April 17th, 2014 No comments

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea’s southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday. The first instructions from the captain were for the passengers to put on life jackets and stay put, and it was not until about 30 minutes later that he ordered an evacuation, Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member, told The Associated Press. But Oh said he wasn’t sure if the captain’s order, given to crew members, was actually relayed to passengers on the public address system.
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Top Asian News at 9:30 a.m. GMT

April 17th, 2014 No comments

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea’s southern coast, likely with about 290 people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list, a crew member said Thursday. The first instructions from the captain were for the passengers to put on life jackets and stay put, and it was not until about 30 minutes later that he ordered an evacuation, Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member told The Associated Press.
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Top Asian News at 9:00 a.m. GMT

April 17th, 2014 No comments

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea’s southern coast, likely with about 290 people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list, a crew member said Thursday. The first instructions from the captain were for the passengers to put on life jackets and stay put, and it was not until about 30 minutes later that he ordered an evacuation, Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member told The Associated Press.
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Algeria on the Eve: Some Thoughts

April 17th, 2014 No comments

Algerians go to the polls tomorrow. There will be six candidates on the ballot, five men and a woman, of varying ideological orientations and ages. Then they will elect an ailing 77-year-old man who made no public campaign speeches.

But you knew that already.

Some analyses seem to see the Algerian situation as a reminder of the worst features of Arab authoritarian republics: the lack of a mechanism for succession and the unwillingness of autocrats to give up power, despite increasing disabilities. Those are no doubt factors. Others see it as a symptom of the fact that Algeria did not go through the ferment of Arab Spring. That’s true, too, no doubt, to some extent.

But I also think that whether or not tomorrow’s polls are freely held and fairly counted, Bouteflika would win anyway. One reason is that the Algerian establishment, from the military and security service generals Algerians call le pouvoir to the two big parties, the government bureaucracy, and the business and energy sectors, don’t have anywhere else to go. Lately profound fissures have been visible within the establishment, but there is no agreed alternative to Bouteflika.

That is one side of the “stability at all costs” argument. The other side is the risk aversion of Algerians who fear  repetition of the violence of the 1990s. Even the half of all Algerians in their 20s and younger bear some scars of the troubles of the 1990s, when some 200,000 died. Older generations remember the eight year war of independence from 1954 to 1962, when perhaps a million died.I suspect this, and the sobering memory of the civil war in Libya next door, are one reason why there has been  so little turbulence in Algeria.

Bouteflika did not end the troubles single-handedly, but he presided over reconciliation, and the absence of any obvious successor means the alternative to another term might be renewed carnage.

Bouteflika will win, though perhaps not by the 90% he got in 2009 or the 85% in 2004. But we can hope that he, or at least le pouvoir, can find a solution to the succession question before Bouteflika is even less able to govern than now: a Vice President with real power perhaps, and a clear succession mechanism.
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