Posts Tagged ‘system’

Cook: Tales of Omar Suleiman

July 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Tales of Omar Suleiman – By Steven A. Cook | Foreign Policy:

The last time I saw Omar Pasha was on Jan. 24, 2011 — on the eve of the Egyptian revolution. I was with a group of foreign-policy experts, business leaders, and philanthropists and we met in an auditorium at the GIS headquarters. It was hard not to notice the freaky, yoga studio-like music that was playing over the sound system. When Suleiman arrived, he sat alone on a dais and spoke into a microphone, even though the delegation numbered only about 25 people seated in the second row of the auditorium, behind a gaggle of GIS courtiers. During the meeting, we learned that the United States had supplied Egypt with the technology to turn off the Internet — something the Egyptians would employ in earnest, though not terribly effectively, less than 24 hours later.

By Jan. 24, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had already fallen and a wave of self-immolations in Egypt had led to widespread speculation about whether the revolution was headed east. Naturally, therefore, someone in our delegation asked Suleiman whether the Tunisian revolt could happen in his country. But even at this late hour, he was as contemptuous of change as he had been six years ago, when he slammed his first down on the Washington conference table. “No,” he responded. “The police have a strategy and the president is strong.” Even at the time, the hubris was astonishing.

One of my big regrets, never meeting Omar Pasha. I do have some insight accrued over years of keeping notes on him and talking to people who dealt with him — mostly foreigner diplomats and spies and some Egyptian ones too. The takeaway is that he was actually fairly mediocre behind all the bluster and powersuits and Cuban cigars, and there is no better illustration of this than his handling of the Hamas issue in Gaza. Suleiman’s declared policy of ultimately crushing Hamas failed all the way, to the extent that people who dealt with him on this issue would joke about the “three-point plan” (engage, contain, crush) he would systematically trot out. Suleiman (unlike some of his predecessors when Egypt was at war with Israel) was ultimately the product of a system that only sought to maintain itself, showed little initiative or daring in foreign policy, and — being so concerned with status-quo and so-called “stability” — appeared to mostly keep busy by keeping everyone going around in circles (exhibit A: Egypt’s handling of Palestinian reconciliation talks).

I find it pretty outrageous he was given a state funeral and am surprised people did not try to disrupt it. One day, US archives of Suleiman’s handywork, especially on the rendition program, might be open and we’ll find out the full extent of complicity in his shenanigans. 

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Dissent in Saudi Arabia

July 12th, 2012 Comments off
Alkhair says it became much more difficult to gather as a group after Kashgari’s arrest. Many of his guests used to congregate informally, at different coffee shops around Jidda, but they no longer feel it is safe to do so. Their most frequent hangout, Bridges Cafe, was recently raided by the religious police, and has been closed indefinitely. And that’s when Alkhair began hosting the meetings in his living room. He insists on keeping them open to the public, and has published his address and phone number online, even though it has put him and his wife in a vulnerable position. Alkhair says they woke up a one morning to a small fire lit outside their apartment door. “I didn’t ask for revolution, I didn’t ask to change the system I just have my small house and a lot of young people, I just speak freely in Twitter, a very basic thing in the world, in other countries, so why do you punish me?”
The government has targeted Alkhair. He has just emerged from a month-long investigation by the Ministry of the Interior. Alkhair says the process involved two or three meetings a week with an investigator at the Ministry’s head office in Jidda, where intense questioning lasted up to eight hours. His investigator probed him about his weekly salons, his Twitter account, and whether or not he would ever take his criticisms to the streets in protest. At the end of the month, he was charged with “disrespecting the judicial system” and could face a year in prison if convicted.
Despite his own uncertain future, Alkhair is optimistic that freedom of speech will continue to grow, both online and outside the walls of his living room. “In just 10 years I have seen young people become very brave, and I wonder what will happen in the next five years, I think a lot will happen.” As one week’s meeting winds down, Alkhair and his wife pile up the empty teacups and he describes one of the last interrogation sessions he went through before receiving his charges. “I did not know how long these interrogations would last, so I told my investigator I was going on a hunger strike until they finished” He smirks as he repeats the investigator’s reaction. “He said, ‘fine’ then asked me nicely not to tweet about it.” Alkhair says little victories like that give him hope for the future.” (thanks Sultan)

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Bullied bus monitor: What will happen to those nasty kids? – Christian Science Monitor

June 21st, 2012 Comments off

Christian Science Monitor

Bullied bus monitor: What will happen to those nasty kids?
Christian Science Monitor
Bullied bus monitor, 68-year-old Karen Klein, tried to ignore the profanity and insults thrown at her by middle school students. But, unless there are real changes made to school system policies, nothing is going to happen to those nasty kids.
Toronto man raises over $165000 for bullied elderly bus monitorGlobe and Mail
Bullied school bus monitor finds online supportCBS News
After Abuse Video Goes Viral, Campaign Raises Over $150000 For Bullied Bus MonitorTIME –Washington Post
all 644 news articles »

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Video: L’Bassline

April 10th, 2012 Comments off

L’Bassline is a new hip-hop group from Fes in Morocco — this song, Chayllah Systeme (Down with the system – actually “Chayllah is a kind of holy figure, a reference to the untouchable nature of the regime, a rather subtle play on word that I mistook for something else – thanks Aba!) tackles with a lot of politically sensitive subject, including electoral fraud, the new constitution, the Makhzen’s economic stranglehold, and more. It’s a fantastic test of one’s darija comprehension, too.

Previous Fez rap video:

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President Hadi, Yemen’s New Leader, Lays out his Vision (al-Sharq al-Awsat)

March 11th, 2012 Comments off

The USG Open Source Center translates an interview at al-Sharq al-Awsat with new Yemeni president Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. He succeeds overthrown dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh

Yemen: President Hadi on Form of Gov’t, Foreign Relations, Fighting Terrorism
Text of interview with Yemeni President Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi by Muhammad Jumayh in Sanaa; date not given: “In his first press interview after his election, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi tells Al-Sharq al-Awsat: National dialogue is a top priority; I wish to end my political career with an unprecedented accomplishment; we are partners in the war on terror; our relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries are strategic and historic”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 …
Document Type: OSC Translated Text…

On 21 February, millions of Yemenis turned out to vote in the early presidential elections stipulated by the Gulf initiative. Many Yemenis are pinning high hopes on consensual President Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi that he will rescue the country from its current political and economic crises. Those that voted for him perceive him as an embodiment of their aspirations for change and the march to a better future. It seems that the new president is raising the motto of “few words, more action”.

In an interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Sanaa – his first interview with a newspaper since his election – Hadi, whose supporters consider him as an exceptional president in exceptional circumstances, believes that comprehensive national dialogue is the top priority in the second transitional phase that started when the first transitional phase ended with the early presidential elections.

Hadi says that he will not exclude from the national dialogue any of the partisan, political, cultural, and social factions and entities in society from the Al-Mahrah Province until Sa’dah, including the youths. Hadi stresses that it is important to restructure the armed forces and security through a military commission with expertise and assistance from the sisterly and friendly countries. The new Yemeni president believes that the program of action of the coming phase is full of big national tasks whose accomplishment requires intensive efforts from the various sides inside the country and supporting sides outside the country and in all fields.

Regarding Yemeni unity, Hadi says that the unanimous agreement on Resolution 2014 by the Security Council member states that provides for respect for Yemen’s unity, security, and sovereignty is a clear message that the world supports Yemeni unity. He points out that the relationship between him and the prime minister will be governed by the spirit of teamwork. They both – as well as the reconciliation government that he described as a “salvation government” – consider themselves as fedayeen that aspire to end their political careers with an accomplishment in the service of Yemen. He says that the Yemenis will set the system of political governance, the electoral system, and the form of the Yemeni state through a comprehensive national dialogue that is to be held this month.

He affirms that Yemen will proceed with its war on the Al-Qa’ida organization in the country, affirming that this organization includes elements of various nationalities and from different countries and is exploiting the difficult political, security, and economic conditions in the country to expand and attract more elements. Hadi points out that his office is receiving signals that show that the Huthists wish to participate in the national dialogue. He adds that his country’s relations at present and in the future with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf countries are strategic and exceptional relations. He says that Yemen represents the strategic depth of these countries that are tied to Yemen with bonds of common religion, culture, good neighborliness, and mutual interests. The text of the interview is as follows:

(Jumayh) What are the priorities of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the coming stage?

(Hadi) The priorities of the coming stage are numerous and varied. The consequences of the crisis that erupted in the beginning of 2011 were catastrophic on all levels, but the program of the transitional stage as set forth in the Gulf initiative is the top priority. This program is headed by the issue of national dialogue. In accordance with the Gulf initiative, a conference of comprehensive national dialogue will be held that does not exclude any partisan, political, cultural, and social entity and sector of society from the Al-Mahrah Province until Sa’dah, including the youths that took to the squares demanding change, justice, an end to injustices, and action to establish a system of wise governance without unjustly treated victims or unjust victimizers. This will be accomplished concurrent with or shortly after with action to restructure the armed forces and security forces through a military commission with assistance and expertise from sisterly and friendly countries that will help in restructuring the military and security establishment on patriotic and legal bases distant from personal loyalties or partisan or tribal affiliations and so on. The program is full of huge national tasks whose accomplishment requires intensive efforts by all the sides concerned inside the country and by the supporting sides outside the country in all fields.

(Jumayh) The issue of the south represents a real concern during the transitional stage. There is genuine concern that the unity of the country may be exposed to danger thus renewing the conflict (between north and south). In your opinion, what are the reasons for the exacerbation of this issue? What are the ways to solve it?

(Hadi) We have said and we continue to say that solutions and dialogues include all the sons of Yemen from the north to the south and from the east to the west. The executive mechanism of the Gulf initiative and United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2014 devoted a lot to all the outstanding files and how to resolve them in a way that preserves Yemen’s security, stability, and unity. I wish to draw your attention to the fact that all 15 member states voted for the UNSC resolution on the Yemeni crisis. This is a magnificent precedent that we have not seen since the 1950s. Therefore, this had a very important significance. The international unanimity inside the Security Council embodied the determination of the international community and the unity of its decision regarding the security, stability, and unity of Yemen.

(Jumayh) What will be the nature of the relationship between the president of the republic and the prime minister? Can there be any intersection or duality in the nature of the common relations?

(Hadi) The government of national reconciliation is one of national partnership. We consider it a national salvation government. It operates with the spirit of one team and not in the name of the political parties or under their umbrella or works for their interests. I tell you with the full meaning of the word that there is a big feeling of responsibility for and appreciation of the delicate and critical circumstances through which Yemen is passing. This requires overcoming all the concepts that may diminish the patriotism of anyone. I do not conceal from you the fact that Muhammad Salim Ba-Sindwah and I consider ourselves fedayeen. We sincerely and honestly look forward to concluding our political careers with an accomplishment that I wish would be unprecedented in the service of the Yemeni homeland, people, and land. I wish to tell you that we are in total agreement on the articles and general topics of the action program during this stage. There is absolutely no room for disagreement.

(Jumayh) My last question leads me to ask about the nature of the system in Yemen. Will it be a presidential system or a parliamentary system after the transitional stage?

(Hadi) This is a very good question. We were facing a raging political crisis across the homeland that can frankly be called “a governance crisis”. It was the cause for the events that took place in Yemen in the past period. We are now in the second phase of implementing the Gulf initiative after the first phase ended with the presidential elections that took place on 21 February. With these elections, we have entered the second transitional stage. As I just pointed out, the essence of this stage is the conference for comprehensive national dialogue during which all the political, social, and cultural forces will be engaged in a dialogue. Naturally, this conference will debate the nature of the wise governance system that will take the Yemeni people to the threshold of the coming stage, God willing. The comprehensive national conference will discuss the nature of the political system and whether it will be a presidential or parliamenta ry system. It will also discuss the nature of the electoral system and whether it will be based on the proportionate list system or the numerical system. The participants in the dialogue will also debate the form of the new state in which the conferees believe.

(Jumayh) According to international reports, the economic situation in the country is on the verge of collapse. What are the specific ways to revive the economic situation and save the country from its economic crisis?

(Hadi) It is said that crises and perils do not leave anything standing. The Yemeni crisis that erupted in the beginning of 2011 left behind nothing but multifaceted destruction, disasters, and catastrophes on all levels. It is known that the Yemeni economy is modest and of limited capabilities in the first place. It suffers from fluctuations and perhaps setbacks caused by various factors. Emerging from the critical economic situation from which the country suffers requires the united efforts of the various Yemeni sides inside the country as well as the concerted efforts of Yemen’s brothers and friends abroad to emerge from the current crisis. We rely on developing our own capabilities, encouraging the national capital, and encouraging investment opportunities of all kinds. We will work hard to restore the status of the economic and investment institutions that were subjected to looting and destruction during the period of security chaos the country witnessed. There is also administrative reform and activation of the role of the public sector and injecting it with new blood. We also have intentions to activate the role of the free zone in Aden so it would regain its suitable status as one of the important harbors not only in Yemen but also in the region and the world. We also count on support by the Friends of Yemen group that is scheduled to begin its meetings in Riyadh to review ways to bolster the Yemeni economy in order to emerge from the current conditions. We also count on the support of the donors at the Riyadh conference that will be held this month. It will look into ways to support the Yemeni economy and reform its institutions so it would recuperate and then return to the stage of growth.

(Jumayh) The Al-Qa’ida organization has managed to expand and grow during the past year by exploiting the state of lawlessness and lack of security in the country. Will the confrontation of this organization be bigger during the transitional stage? Will you adopt strategies and specific plans to confront the expansion of Al-Qa’ida in Yemen?

(Hadi) We are grateful to God Almighty for endowing Yemen with a sensitive geographic location in the southern Arabian Peninsula and in a vital region that necessitates international cooperation through the partnership in combating terrorism. All that concerns Yemen’s security and stability is a local, regional, and international necessity. Yemen is located in a sensitive and vital region that overlooks navigation waterways that allow the passage of about four million barrels of oil every day to the United States and Europe. This is in addition to the large volume of various forms of trade exchange. You know that Yemen was among the first countries that suffered from the shameful and criminal deeds of terrorism. Yemen has an important asset in combating this terrorist scourge that crosses borders and continents. You can review the various instances of confrontation of this organization over the past year and the beginning of this year in all the regions and provinces, especially in Abyan Province. The Al-Qa’ida organization exploited the political and security conditions and many of its leaders and elements from Arab and Islamic countries infiltrated Yemen. Perhaps you followed up on reports that many of its commanders holding various nationalities in the world were killed since Al-Qa’ida’s elements come from different countries and regions. Some members of the organization in Yemen come from Chechnya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, and other countries. Numerous elements that belong to this organization have come with their various titles and codenames. However, we affirm that we are partners in the international efforts in the war on terrorism. There will be no leniency at all in the relentless and firm confrontation of the various forms, colors, and nationalities of terrorism and extremism. In this regard, we call on the international community not to show any leniency to this dangerous phenomenon that has spread and struck roots because Al-Qa’ida exploited the political, security, and living conditions. No doubt, the governance crisis that we just talked about resulted in security defects. In top of all of the above, the country continues to witness difficult economic conditions. All these factors united to give the Al-Qa’ida elements the chance to be active in some areas in the country. As an example of how this organization exploited the economic situation is the fact that youths and university graduates could not find employment although they have been waiting for vacancies for years. Meanwhile, their need for employment to build their future life rises. All this leads to an inevitable outcome. These youths or some of them become exposed to polarization by the terrorist groups that try to recruit them to undermine the stability and security of the country. Let me give you a specific example regarding this point in the country. We have about six million youths between the ages of 16 to 28 years. This is an important age bracket and sector. It constitutes an important reservoir for development, work, and production. However, the poverty, the weak economy, and the shortage of capabilities expose some of them to temptations, deviations, and pitfalls masterminded by those that recruit them, as I said, with temptations one of which may be acts of terrorism. You are aware that those with bad intentions who recruit youths exploit these youths’ lack of education and their weak minds, and they fall victim to financial temptations, particularly since they are in big need of money. That is why I urge the international community not to allow such loopholes and gaps that may have painful and upsetting consequences in the future.

(Jumayh) What about the Huthists [Shiite Zaydi rebels in the North]?

(Hadi) The Huthists are sending us messages that confirm their willingness to participate in the national dialogue conference. We in turn encourage them to join the political process. We emphasize that the national dialogue will not exclude anyone; the new Yemeni state is broad enough to all the factions and sectors of Yemeni society. We have to enter the stage of dialogue with honest intentions and sincerity in order to save the country from the crisis from which it has been suffering for more than a year.

(Jumayh) How do you view Yemen’s relations with Saudi Arabia and with the Gulf countries in general at present and in the future?

(Hadi) Yemeni-Saudi relations are strategic, historic, and exceptional relations. Under the leadership of the custodian of the two holy mosques, the kingdom stood alongside Yemen as it witnessed its darkest moments and circumstances. We do not forget that His Majesty the King is the important sponsor of the Gulf initiative who followed up on it and supported its success since its first moments. His praiseworthy efforts, for which we are thankful, played the most prominent role that led to the signing of the Gulf initiative in Riyadh. The day of signing is rightfully viewed as the beginning of the relaxation in the crisis that raged in the country. His speech during the signing ceremony embodied the kingdom’s deep concern for the security, stability, and sovereignty of Yemen. Of course, in addition to the Saudi role, the brothers in the Arabian Gulf countries also played a major role. The brothers in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman were determined to bring about the success of the Gulf initiative and help Yemen emerge from its vicious crisis. As for relations in the coming stage, we expect more political, moral, and economic support for Yemen by our brothers in the Gulf Coope ration Council. Perhaps the convocation of the “Friends of Yemen Conference” in Riyadh is especially significant showing that our brothers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf are aware that Yemen represents their strategic depth as well as their human and geographic extension. We are all, of course, the people of one peninsula and our fraternal religious, cultural, geographic, and human bonds strengthen our cohesion. Moreover, common interests in Yemen’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf in general make these relations distinctive and special. Finally, I wish to thank the London-based daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper for following up on what is happening in Yemen and for its interest in covering the course of events in the country objectively and professionally since the eruption of the crisis at the beginning of 2011 until the accomplishments made to help Yemen emerge from its difficult circumstances, God willing.

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic — Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL: http://www.asharqalawsat. com/)

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Nathan Brown on Egypt’s judiciary and corporatism

February 23rd, 2012 Comments off

For judicial wonks out there, a superb piece on the past, present and future condition of the judiciary in Egypt has just been published by Nathan Brown at Carnegie. It’s long, but here’s an excerpt I want to comment on that deals with the judiciary getting increasing leverage over the state, and specifically the Supreme Constitutional Court but then expands into a wider point about the revival of corporatism more generally:

Yet the Court, less bashful than the regular judiciary, secured a decree law in June 2011 from the ruling military council that got little attention in the wave of post-revolutionary exuberance. It restricts the president’s choices for the position of chief justice to the Court’s three most senior members and requires the agreement of the General Assembly of the Court’s justices for the appointment to proceed. The brief decree also requires precedence be given to the Court’s “Commissioner’s Body,” a group attached to the court that helps prepare cases and opinions, for appointment to the Court’s main bench. The result will be a remarkably self-perpetuating Court and one that may be very difficult to check.

And the rest of the judiciary will eventually become similarly self-perpetuating—assuming the parliament passes a version of the law everyone agrees they want. This will certainly be a step toward judicial independence of a kind that Egypt’s past authoritarian rulers would never have permitted.

The unasked question in Egypt is whether this is an appropriate path for an aspiring democracy. While the judiciary needs insulation from political pressures, these measures may make judges accountable only to each other in a manner that few democracies have dared to adopt.

Indeed, this may mark a new and wholly unanticipated direction for the Egyptian political system—not in the direction of liberal democracy but instead toward an odd kind of corporatism or even syndicalism. “Corporatism” refers to a social and political system in which various parts of the society are hierarchically and separately organized; their actions are either coordinated or commanded by the state. “Syndicalism” refers to a system in which groups, generally labor or class based, are organized and act for themselves without such state supervision. Egypt may be constructing a system that falls between these two. The terms, from late nineteenth and early twentieth century Europe and largely forgotten in public discussions today, do not completely apply in the Egyptian case—it is, after all, not merely social segments but the state itself that is being carved up into a series of autonomous actors. But they are instructive nonetheless.

To understand how the system might operate, it helps to describe its evolution. Egypt has been a state of strong institutions for a considerable period, but under Nasser’s leadership they were robbed of all autonomy and placed under direct presidential control. The country had only one political party (not coincidentally headed by the president) which owned the press, controlled labor unions, and induced all Egyptians to sing the same ideological tune.

That system was gradually dismantled under Sadat and replaced with one where institutions were granted considerable internal autonomy but placed in the hands of trusted individuals—and those individuals were replaced if they proved less than trustworthy. That pattern was considerably deepened under Mubarak with the remarkable, but often unnoticed, result that each institution was headed by an individual drawn entirely from the institution’s own senior ranks. The minister of defense was a leading general; the minister of interior a leading officer in the security forces; the minister of religious affairs a leading religious scholar; and even the minister of culture was an artist. The minister of justice in such a system was a leading judge. In all these cases, the individual chosen was fully loyal to the system in general and the president specifically but was often given considerable freedom in his own realm.

What Egypt is moving toward is a system in which those institutions will now select their own leaders rather than have the president designate a favorite. It would still be a shock if the ministry of defense or interior were to be headed by a civilian, but in the new system, it may be that senior officers will go further to insist on a say in who of their own ranks is chosen. This path was already followed by Egypt’s current cabinet when a minister of interior was chosen after consultation with leading security officers.

I think actually Nathan undershoots here — there is a strong corporatism to the nature of post-1952 Egypt, certainly in terms of political culture (just think of the relative strength of professional syndicates, even under autocracy, or that entire modern neighborhoods of Cairo have names like “Engineers” or “Journalists). Corporatism is deeply engrained in Egypt, and one of the main reason I have never been a cheerleader for the Judges’ Club and its maximalist approach towards judges’ independence (they want money from the state without accountability for instance, and the “judges’  intifada” of 2006 was successfully shut down by the Ministry of Justice withdrawing corporatist favors like the payment of judges’ mobile phone bills and the underwriting of the Club’s loan facilities).

But pinpointing of the dangers towards an adapted, perhaps less authoritarian, corporatism is very astute. But the “balkanization” of the Egyptian state he discusses is real cause for concern for me, because the creation of corporatist islands of power working side to side is not really a transformation of the political fabric as the creation of privileged enclaves that continue forms of behavior where the distinction between the state (and its resources) and corporate interests is scant, where accountability is difficult to obtain outside these enclaves (i.e. they tend to be self-governing), and where everyone who is not in one of these enclaves will tend to become a less privileged citizen. Not to mention, of course, that the battle for control of these enclaves risks becoming the biggest stake of politics (rather than elections, etc.) and that elected officials have reduced power over these enclaves as a result.

A really great piece worth reading for its insight on the judiciary alone, but the final insight is a much more important point:

Much of the political focus in Egypt in the year after the January 25 revolution was on the tension between the military council and the Brotherhood; between Islamists and non-Islamists; between civilian political structures and the institutions of the security state; and between older authoritarian ways and newer more participatory ones. Such contests are vital and real. But they should not lead us to overlook another likely contest that is apt to grow even as the other ones diminish: between the forces of politics, popular sovereignty, and democracy on the one hand and bureaucracy, expertise, and professionalism on the other.

I would fear a rule of technocracies, bureaucracies and “corporations” just as much as the rule of the military — which is just one form of technocracy that specializes in violence, after all.

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“Especially if it’s about Israel …"

February 18th, 2012 Comments off

“… Following insistent questions from Turkish media and lawmakers, Rasmussen had to repeat several times that “it was a NATO system and the data within the system will not be shared with third countries.”However, Davuto?lu was firmer in singling out Israel from “third countries” when he said, “Especially if it’s about Israel, our view is clear.”…”

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Net filtering issues

December 4th, 2011 Comments off, New Internet filtering system condemned as backdoor censorship, 2 Dec 2011 "An Internet content filtering system that Turkey’s Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) introduced on 22 November is proving controversial both domestically and abroad. The outcry has coincided with a conference on the Internet in Turkey that began in the southwestern city of Izmir on 30
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Election day! (First One Anyway): Some Readings

November 28th, 2011 Comments off

Election day in Egypt at last! Details in the next post, but here’s a Reader’s Digest of useful commentary, blogging, and thinktanking. Not at all comprehensive (that’s Google’s job) but things I thought worth linking to:

The logo along the bottom of the ad shows the silhouette of a mosque, church, skyscraper, pyramids, the Zamalek tower, and sailboats—with an army tank nestled comfortably in the middle.  Had I been consulted on the logo, I would have advised against having the tank’s gun turret aimed directly at the church.

Michele fairly recently left Carnegie in DC for the Atlantic Council, as head of their new Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Their EgyptSource page looks like the new go-to during the elections. I feel that when she left Carnegie she sort of took Egypt with her (though Nathan Brown is still in there on legal and constitutional issues), especially since Carnegie’s Beirut operation lost Amr Hamzawy (at least for the duration of the elections) to Egyptian politics.

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Saudi system of governance and selection

October 29th, 2011 Comments off
““The king has notified the chief and members of the Allegiance Council of his choice,” the royal court said in a statement late on Thursday. “The king instructed the princes to pledge allegiance to Prince Naif bin Abdelaziz as crown prince.”” (thanks Sultan)

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