Egypt is at the ideological center of the ongoing dispute between Qatar and its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, Egypt has been a bellwether for both political and economic reform in the wider Middle East and North Africa. It is also the focal point of experimental efforts of the gulf states to exercise policies of financial and political intervention. How the current GCC crisis unfolds in Egypt can tell us much about the new norms of foreign intervention — whether economic, political or military — in the region.… Seguir leyendo »
The widespread Russian protests against corruption, inspired by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, made global headlines earlier this year. The roots of dissatisfaction often are more personal than political, however, as many Russian citizens have been protesting to defend the ownership and use of private property.
What are Russians protesting, and what do they want the government to do? Here’s a rundown:
1) Russian citizens protest crooked housing deals
The real estate scams reportedly involved upward of a half-million Russians who invested in new apartments. Some companies collected funds from “shareholders” in these buildings and promised to build condominiums — then disappeared without building the units or returning the money.… Seguir leyendo »
This week, dozens of analysts and officials will be spending days huddled over desks, screens and phones, busy pursuing parallel inquiries into two young men of a similar age but dramatically divergent backgrounds. Many will be working for the same three-character organisations – the CIA, FBI, MI6, MI5 etc – in the US, UK or Europe. All will be seeking clues to help them achieve what has become one of the more pressing goals of our world: understanding extremism.
One set of investigators will be looking at the background of Younes Abouyaaqoub, the 22-year-old suspected of driving a van into crowds of tourists in Barcelona last Thursday afternoon, killing 14 and injuring scores more.… Seguir leyendo »
A short team time-trial through Nîmes on August 19 opens the Vuelta a España, the Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France and the third of the “grand tours,” the epic three-week races that are the summit of the bike racing season. (Yes, Nîmes is in southern France, but it’s a good deal nearer to Spain than France is to Berlin, Dublin, or Leeds, where the Tour has at one time or another held its Grand Départ.) Chris Froome will be attempting to become the first cyclist to win the Tour-Vuelta double in the same year since 1978. At the end of last month he won his fourth Tour, and he has come second in the Vuelta three times, behind Juan José Cobo, Alberto Contador, and last year the marvelous little Nairo Quintana, of Colombia.… Seguir leyendo »
It was painful, conspicuous and easy: the sort of target terrorists are always looking for. Las Ramblas of Barcelona, Spain, where two men crashed a van Thursday into unsuspecting bystanders, killing at least 13 people and wounding more than 100, is a wide, unprotected, mile-long pedestrian artery. It stretches from the busy urban center to the old seaport.
At one end, the Fountain of Canaletas is where Barcelona soccer fans celebrate their triumphs. At the opposite end, a statue of Christopher Columbus points a finger toward the Mediterranean, a symbol of Barcelona’s cosmopolitan vocation. Every year, tens of millions of people visit the city, and virtually all of them will, at some point, take a stroll along Las Ramblas, promenading amid the kiosks, the flower sellers and the sidewalk cafes, enjoying the scent of coffee, lilies and roses.… Seguir leyendo »
The smoked monkeys brought the point home. During my first day on a boat on the Congo River, I’d embraced the unfamiliar: how to bend under the rail to fill my wash bucket from the river, where to step around the tethered goat in the dark and the best way to prepare a pot of grubs. But when I saw the monkeys impaled on stakes, skulls picked clean of brains and teeth thrusting out, I looked otherness in the face — and saw myself mirrored back.
I was the real exotica: the only tourist to take this boat in nearly a decade, and the only white woman, as far as the crew knew, ever.… Seguir leyendo »
Seventy years after independence, India’s Muslim population has begun to fear that the dark fantasies of the Muslims led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League in the 1930s and 1940s — who fought for the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan as a homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims — could well be coming true.
The Muslim League, a party established by Muslim landlords and the educated middle class, claimed that it alone had the right to represent Muslims and their interests. This brought it into conflict with the Indian National Congress of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, who argued that they represented all Indians.… Seguir leyendo »
The evening plane that landed on Aug. 2 at the airport in Grozny, the capital of the Russian republic of Chechnya, was met by a group of high-level officials. Next to them was a young woman in a green hijab with white dots in the shape of hearts, waiting and doing her best to control her emotions. Then the steps were lowered, and a Chechen military police officer carried down a pale, thin boy awkwardly dressed in a plaid jacket and a fedora.
The child did not recognize his mother, whom he had not seen for two years. In 2015, 4-year-old Bilal was abducted by his father when he went to join the Islamic State.… Seguir leyendo »
The United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898 and took it from Spain. Although the residents became United States citizens in 1917, the island’s colonial status has been a locus of political debate and struggle for most of its subsequent history.
Just a few months after gaining citizenship, Puerto Ricans were made subject to a United States military draft. But they have never gotten to elect a voting member of Congress, despite being governed by United States law. The island is officially an “unincorporated territory” of the United States, but since the 1950s, it has preferred to call itself an “estado libre asociado” — free associated state — or a “commonwealth.” If the word “colony” was once judged too harsh, at this moment in Puerto Rico’s history, it looks like an understatement.… Seguir leyendo »
Here’s a suggestion for the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, which opens its nominating season next month: Look to the three young men who earlier today became Hong Kong’s first prisoners of conscience.
In 2014, the courageous trio helped lead what become known as the Umbrella Movement — an enormous political protest defending Hong Kong’s freedoms from an increasingly aggressive Beijing. Like Andrei Sakharov, Vaclav Havel, Aung San Suu Kyi and so many dissidents that came before them, the men were hit with a bogus charge (“unlawful assembly”), were found guilty and served out their punishments last year.
But today, Hong Kong’s Department of Justice decided that those penalties were too lenient.… Seguir leyendo »
Seventy years ago this week, India and Pakistan became independent from the British Empire. The celebrations were cut short as the partition on religious lines ripped the subcontinent apart. Partition changed millions of lives, and the shape of the world, forever.
No one knows exactly how many were beaten, mutilated, tortured or raped in communal violence between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. The death toll has been estimated at 200,000 to two million. Between 10 million and 20 million people were displaced.
Who was to blame? Many in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh (which was East Pakistan until 1971) and Britain have asked that question.… Seguir leyendo »
On March 19, a human rights activist from Taiwan named Lee Ming-che disappeared in mainland China, and his wife back in Taipei, Lee Ching-yu, became a member of one of the least desirable clubs in the world: the spouses of people who for political reasons have fallen into the hands of China’s public security police. The club’s members share at least two characteristics. One, they have been deprived of husbands or wives who have done nothing that would constitute a crime in any democratic country; and two, they face a kind of deafening silence from the authorities in China, and that silence itself speaks loudly of the power that the state has over the puny, isolated individual—in other words, over Ms.… Seguir leyendo »
Early last month, the Saudi parliament held a biting public constitutional debate about enforcing Islamic law, one with far-reaching implications for how the kingdom is governed. The argument was part of a larger struggle over subduing the Hay’a, the body (often referred to as the “Religious Police”) that enforces moral and religious values in public places.
Parliament? Constitution? Sort of, but there’s a bit of exaggeration there.
Biting public debate about religion? Yes.
In Saudi Arabia now, foreign policy debates are monitored and dissenting opinions squelched. Religious debates are much more freewheeling and wide open. The religious police being rendered toothless or even abolished?… Seguir leyendo »
In 1948, a year after the partition of India, my maternal grandparents moved from Calcutta to Dhaka, crossing from West Bengal in India to East Bengal, or East Pakistan — now Bangladesh. There, they built a tin-shed house in the new neighborhood of Dhanmondi, known before only for its paddy fields (dhan). At the time, the area was so desolate that every night my grandfather would fire his double-barreled shotgun to ward off foxes and thieves.
Two years later, he built the first brick and concrete house in the area, which soon enough filled up with one- and two-story bungalows, each with its own lawn.… Seguir leyendo »
No one should be worried about American military action anywhere in Latin America. The notion is risible.
But President Trump’s cavalier remark last week referring to a “possible military option” to deal with the increasingly dictatorial regime led by President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela has real consequences. Such bluster could adversely affect the United States’ relations with its closest neighbors and make it even more difficult to resolve the hemisphere’s worst crisis.
Although White House officials have said “all options are on the table” when it comes to Venezuela, Mr. Trump’s comment seemed to come out of nowhere. The administration had been pursuing a different approach: It expanded targeted sanctions on top Venezuelan officials — including Mr.… Seguir leyendo »