The move of Saudi Arabia,the UAE and Bahrain against Qatar was swift. It was launched on the back of a fake news report placed by hackers on the website of Qatar’s official news agency. That allowed the three Gulf states to launch a media campaign led by Saudi- and UAE-controlled TV channels.
Qatar was simultaneously accused of hosting Hamas; supporting the Muslim Brotherhood; backing Hezbollah; having close ties with Iran; sowing the seeds of sedition inside Saudi Arabia, and all the while maintaining intimate relations with Israel. If you can do all those things at the same time, you are indeed a magician.… Seguir leyendo »
On Sunday, Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi will complete his first year in office. Instead of being an occasion to celebrate – he is the first elected president – many fear the anniversary will mark the beginning of the collapse of Egypt’s political system.
The opposition has called for mass protests against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to take place on the day. Although dissent and protest is a political right in a democracy, these protests could result in a coup against the democratic process, and could plunge Egypt into a cycle of violence and chaos.
Many criticisms can be made about Morsi’s performance and the Brotherhood’s behaviour since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week – clearly and officially – the war in Syria widened to become an extraordinary regional conflict. First, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, formally acknowledged that his forces are indeed fighting alongside those of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, in Iraq the confrontation between the government of Nouri al-Maliki and demonstrators in the Sunni provinces entered its bloodiest phase. And then, as the week ended, we saw the Israeli bombing of targets inside Syria. The entire region is now undergoing the most important geopolitical shift since the political map of the Middle East was redrawn after the first world war.… Seguir leyendo »
The Syrian revolution is entering its third year. An estimated 70,000 people have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been injured, 1 million are now refugees, and a generation has been lost to violence. However, the worst is yet to come. If the Assad regime does not fall soon, the conflict will spread to the entire region, from Basra on the banks of the Gulf to Beirut on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
Britain and France have expressed their intention to arm the Syrian resistance and want to lift the European arms embargo. However, many in the Syrian opposition believe this is not sufficient unless it is part of a clear strategy to overthrow the Assad regime.… Seguir leyendo »
La crisis más reciente que está padeciendo Egipto ha causado daños considerables y está poniendo en peligro la transición del país a la democracia. No se han seguido las reglas de la competición política, y la situación ha degenerado en violencia, algo que perjudica tanto a los opositores como a los partidarios del presidente Mohamed Morsi.
En teoría, el problema fue la declaración constitucional de Morsi. Los Hermanos Musulmanes —los Ikhwan— consideraban que esa declaración era necesaria para prevenir un fallo del tribunal constitucional que, en la práctica, habría quitado sus poderes al presidente y paralizado la transición política. El fallo habría anulado la asamblea constituyente, el órgano redactor de la constitución, y habría disuelto el consejo consultivo, el único órgano electo que queda después de que ese mismo tribunal disolviera el parlamento en junio.… Seguir leyendo »
A crucial shift is now taking place in the Middle East towards the conflict in Syria. The Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s call for Arab-Iranian-Turkish dialogue over the crisis and a safe transfer of power in Syria – which he repeated in his speech to the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran – has been well received in Turkey and Iran. All these countries have a powerful interest in making such a dialogue work, which makes the chances of success far greater than at any time previously.
The context is clear enough. The Syrian rebels have made major gains. The revolution moved to a new phase after the 18 July attack in Damascus, which took the lives of several top security officials, a huge morale boost to the Free Syrian Army (FSA).… Seguir leyendo »
The Arab world has recently gone through its most anxious period since the start of the Arab spring 19 months ago. People held their breath before their television screens, awaiting the outcome of the Egyptian presidential election. Only when the success of the Muslim Brotherhood and revolutionary forces candidate, Muhammad Morsi, over Hosni Mubarak’s prime minister, Ahmad Shafiq, was announced did people start to breathe freely again.
Throughout the night, there were celebrations not only in Egypt, but across the length and breadth of the Arab world. This was not simply because of Egypt’s centrality in the region, but also because Morsi’s long-awaited victory sent a clear message that the Arab spring was still alive, and that the attempts by the military and the forces of the former regime – “the deep state” – had failed yet again before the tenacity of the revolutionaries in Tahrir square.… Seguir leyendo »
While Russia and China were using their veto to abort a UN security council resolution against the Syrian regime, the news of a massacre in Homs came thick and fast. In an unprecedented escalation, the Syrian regime sought to exploit the international hesitancy to have a bloody showdown with its opposition.
This came after Syrians had observed for the first time in 30 years the anniversary of the massacre carried out in Hama in February 1982. It is regarded as one of the most gruesome events in Syria’s modern history. On that occasion, former president Hafiz al-Assad decimated most of the city of Hama with aerial bombings and tanks.… Seguir leyendo »
Los acontecimientos del año pasado en Egipto y Túnez bajaron la cortina de un orden viejo y tambaleante y abrieron la mayor parte del mundo árabe a una era nueva y largamente esperada. Cómo lucirá esa nueva era es una pregunta abierta, si tenemos en cuenta los numerosos desafíos que los países de la región siguen enfrentando.
El viejo orden que ha comenzado a desaparecer se extiende más allá de los regímenes anteriores. Se está transformando todo el sistema de valores de la región: una cultura política forjada en la autocracia. Los hombres y mujeres árabes se han deshecho de la sensación de humillación e inferioridad que el despotismo les había impuesto, generando desesperación, ira, violencia e insularidad.… Seguir leyendo »
The Arab world is lucky that its spring started in Tunisia, a society of ethnic and sectarian homogeneity distinguished by its high educational standards, civil sentiment and political conscience. The Tunisian revolution has provided a beautiful model that revived hopes within the Arab world long buried under piles of oppression, desperation and pessimism.
Visiting Tunisia on the first anniversary of its revolution I was impressed to see how the new leaders are able to surpass the bitterness of the past and cross quickly into the future. In as much as it has inspired the Arab masses to rise against tyrants, today Tunisia is giving them another lesson in how to establish a balanced democratic alternative.… Seguir leyendo »
Ennahda, the Islamic party in Tunisia, won 41% of the seats of the Tunisian constitutional assembly last month, causing consternation in the west. But Ennahda will not be an exception on the Arab scene. Last Friday the Islamic Justice and Development Party took the biggest share of the vote in Morocco and will lead the new coalition government for the first time in history. And tomorrow Egypt’s elections begin, with the Muslim Brotherhood predicted to become the largest party. There may be more to come. Should free and fair elections be held in Yemen, once the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh falls, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, also Islamic, will win by a significant majority.… Seguir leyendo »
It is almost a century since the state borders that today divide the Middle East were drawn up. The shape of the region was negotiated behind closed doors and imposed by colonial powers without consulting its people. The impact of those deals still haunts the region and, many would argue, plays a central role in its instability.
Some of the states that emerged from the carve-up later championed independence and social development, while others adopted a conservative stance. But almost without exception they maintained a monopoly on information and communication, underpinned by control and censorship of the media. For many years dissent, criticism or even limited exposure of what was going on behind closed doors was crushed with the argument that “it is not the right time” and “we are in a development and liberation battle”.… Seguir leyendo »
A lot can change in five years. In December 2005 the Guardian opened its pages for me to respond to a leak – the Bush-Blair memo in which both leaders discussed the possibility of bombing Al-Jazeera’s Qatar HQ, where more than 1,000 people work. While those who leaked the memo were imprisoned, its detailed contents were never disclosed. Earlier this year I learned from a senior US official that the discussions had indeed taken place.
I was not surprised. Our bureaus in Kabul and Iraq had previously been bombed by the US in an attempt to stifle the channel’s independence; one of our journalists in Iraq was killed.… Seguir leyendo »