Oriente Próximo

An Afghan National Army soldier keeps watch at a checkpoint on the Ghazni-Kabul highway on Aug. 14, 2018. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)

On Aug. 11, more than 1,000 Taliban fighters stormed Ghazni, a city of some 270,000 Afghans less than 100 miles from Kabul, quickly overrunning its defenders. Over the next five days, Taliban forces sacked government buildings, seized the central prison, and looted and burned police stations. Driving the Taliban out required more than three dozen airstrikes as well as house-to-house fighting that left an estimated 250 civilians dead, hundreds of Afghan soldiers and police casualties, and large areas of downtown Ghazni destroyed. Humanitarian operations have been halting; the Taliban mined many of the central approaches, including the key Highway 1 linking Kabul to Ghazni, and clearing operations still continue.…  Seguir leyendo »

Laborers sit under a billboard of Imran Khan during a campaign rally in Karachi, Pakistan, in July.CreditAkhtar Soomro/Reuters

When Imran Khan is sworn in as the prime minister of Pakistan on Saturday, he will be confronted by daunting challenges.

The country has a balance-of-payments crisis. The judiciary is in a hyperactivist mood. The effects of climate change are being keenly felt, with a major water-supply crisis. Hard-won gains against a decade-long terrorist campaign have to be consolidated.

Many Pakistanis, including senior military officials, blame an incompetent and venal political class for Pakistan’s chronic problems, from economic vulnerabilities to anxieties about security. They have been yearning for a messiah-like figure who can turn Pakistan into a financially autonomous and militarily robust nation that is respected globally.…  Seguir leyendo »

On July 19, after years of contentious debate, Israel’s Knesset approved a new Basic Law defining the State of Israel unequivocally as “the national home of the Jewish People.” In the weeks since its passage, this “nation-state law” has been hailed by its supporters as a major historical breakthrough, by Israel’s secular left and Arab minority as a tragedy, and by some scholars as a largely symbolic and inconsequential action.

Much of the public debate over the law hinges on how it will affect the delicate balance Israel has long straddled as a Jewish and democratic state, and whether its uncertain application will firmly alter this balance at the expense of political and social equality.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli youths held national flags on Jerusalem Day in the Old City in May.CreditThomas Coex/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israel is no stranger to criticism. Both within our country and outside of it, there is no shortage of opportunity to debate and disagree. Recently, even many outsiders who claim to love Israel have taken to criticizing it. In these very pages, Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, wrote recently about his concerns about what is happening to Israel, apparently reflecting the worries of others in the Jewish diaspora when he suggests that Israel is somehow too Jewish or that its democracy is under threat.

So let me be clear: We Israelis are proud of who we are.…  Seguir leyendo »

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.CreditYves Herman/Rueters

Last week, the Saudi government expelled the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh, and canceled flights, educational exchanges, and trade and investment activities between the two countries.

This crisis was precipitated by a tweet — published both in English and, crucially, in Arabic — on Aug. 3 from the Canadian foreign ministry saying it was “gravely concerned” about the arrest of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia and urging the Saudi government to “immediately release them.”

To many observers, especially in the West, this incident is proof that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is not the reformer he claims to be, but rather an impulsive authoritarian.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel, This Is Not Who We Are

For many Israelis, Jews and supporters of Israel, the last year has been a challenging one. In the summer of 2017, Israel’s government withdrew from an agreement that would have created an egalitarian prayer area at the Western Wall and proposed a strict conversion law that impinges on the rights of non-Orthodox Jews. This summer the Knesset passed a law that denies equal rights to same-sex couples. A day later came the nation-state law, which correctly reaffirms that Israel is a Jewish state, but also damages the sense of equality and belonging of Israel’s Druze, Christian and Muslim citizens.

Last month, a Conservative rabbi was detained for the alleged crime of performing a non-Orthodox wedding ceremony in Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Esraa Albuti, an executive director at Ernst & Young, displays her brand-new driving license in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on June 4. (Saudi Information Ministry via AP)

On June 24, Saudi Arabia, making a long-awaited change, officially lifted its ban on women driving. Yet for the past seven weeks, Hatoon al-Fassi, an internationally known scholar, professor and women’s rights advocate, has remained in detention, having been arrested just as she was preparing to exercise the newly granted permission to drive in her country. The tensions and contradictions of Saudi reform, especially when it comes to women, could not be more clearly illustrated than in her case. (It is worth noting, of course, that a number of other female activists have been arrested before and after the lifting of the ban.)

Al-Fassi is, in many ways, an example of what Saudi Arabia has accomplished when it comes to offering opportunities to its female citizens.…  Seguir leyendo »

The EU sanctions ploy

The Chinese government isn’t concerned about the short-term economic effects of President Trump’s tariffs. The European Union is concerned with nothing else. For a fistful of dollars they are siding with the world’s foremost terrorist regime against the nation that has protected them since 1945.

As we will see in a moment, the EU is desperately trying to maintain its economic ties with Iran despite that fact and the events of July and August.

In early July, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani — regarded by some as a moderate, as if there were such a leader in Iran — threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crisis Group’s Middle East & North Africa Program Director Joost Hiltermann participated in the 2018 Körber Policy Game, designed to explore possible outcomes in the event of a crisis between Turkey and the West in Syria. While the exercise underscored many of the Syrian conflict’s complexities, it also revealed that a strong desire by stakeholders to find common ground can help overcome them.

If it were up to regional experts advising their governments, things in the Middle East needn’t look so bad: the Syrian conflict could be contained; a war between Israel and Iran could be avoided, and so, too – and more importantly – a war between Russia and the United States; and Turkey would return to providing regional stability, anchored firmly in the West through its NATO membership.…  Seguir leyendo »

La province d’Idlib, au nord-ouest de la Syrie, dernière grande enclave aux mains des forces rebelles, a jusqu’à présent servi de soupape de sécurité. Alors que les autres enclaves antigouvernementales tombaient les unes après les autres, les survivants n’ont eu d’autre choix que d’être livrés à leur sort à Idlib ou bien de vivre dans des zones contrôlées par le gouvernement, où ils seraient constamment exposés au risque d’être détenus, torturés et exécutés. Pour des raisons évidentes, beaucoup ont choisi Idlib. Actuellement, environ la moitié des 2,3 millions de personnes y vivant sont des personnes déplacées, venant d’autres régions de Syrie.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un tremblement de terre est tranquillement en train de secouer le monde juif. Lorsque le premier ministre israélien, Benyamin Nétanyahou, choisit de soutenir Donald Trump avant et après l’élection présidentielle américaine de 2016, certains pouvaient encore donner à ce dernier le bénéfice du doute. Certes, Trump s’était entouré de gens comme Steve Bannon dont émanaient des relents antisémites, certes, il refusait aussi de condamner sa base électorale sympathisante du Ku Klux Klan, mais personne n’était encore sûr de la direction que prendrait sa nouvelle présidence.

Les événements de Charlottesville, en août 2017, n’ont plus permis le doute. Les manifestants néonazis commirent des actes de violence contre des contre-manifestants pacifiques (tuant une personne en fonçant dans la foule avec une voiture), mais Trump condamna de la même façon opposants modérés et manifestants néonazis.…  Seguir leyendo »

J’ai lu attentivement les propos de M. le député [Ahmad] Tibi, publiés ici même sous le titre provocateur « Israël est devenue “un régime d’apartheid” » (Le Monde du 1er août). J’ai été à la tête de la commission parlementaire en charge de la préparation du texte de loi relatif à la « loi Etat-nation du peuple juif ». Je suis fils d’immigrants marocains, juif fier de ses racines, député homosexuel élu dans le cadre d’un parti de droite, sioniste engagé.

Soixante-dix ans après la naissance de l’Etat d’Israël, nous sommes parvenus à achever le troisième volet de notre Loi fondamentale, qui avait jusqu’à présent fait défaut.…  Seguir leyendo »

La igualdad no es una “recompensa”

La capacidad de dividir y hacer daño de la nueva ley sobre el Estado-nación del pueblo judío es tan evidente que la obstinación del primer ministro en no modificarla hace sospechar que tiene otra intención oculta: la voluntad de mantener abierta la herida de las relaciones entre el Estado y la minoría árabe que vive en él. Abierta, reavivada y amenazadora.

¿De dónde puede emanar esa voluntad? ¿Por qué tendrán ese deseo el Gobierno y el primer ministro? No podemos hacer más que conjeturas: ¿quizá porque una minoría herida es más vulnerable y manipulable, es blanco fácil del odio, el terror y la desintegración, más propicio para la política del “divide y vencerás”?…  Seguir leyendo »

Des Irakiens yézidis fuient les attaques de l'Etat islamique et se dirigent vers la frontière syrienne, le 10 août 2014. Photo Rodi Said. Reuters

Le 3 août 2014, l’Etat islamique lançait ses exactions contre les Yézidis en Irak, massacrait des centaines d’hommes, réduisait de milliers de femmes à l’esclavage et embrigadait autant d’enfants. Quatre ans plus tard, plus de 3 000 femmes et enfants sont encore portés disparus et 300 000 Yézidis vivent dans des camps au nord de l’Irak, sans ressources et sans perspective d’avenir. Quatre ans plus tard, il semblerait que le peuple yézidi se trouve aussi face à des bouleversements profonds, aussi bien vis-à-vis de ses relations avec le monde, au sein de la communauté elle-même, qu’à l’égard de ce qui semble être devenu un nouveau pilier, la femme.…  Seguir leyendo »

A portrait of Imran Khan in Islamabad. (Anjum Naveed/AP)

On Friday evening I drove back home to Islamabad after covering Pakistan’s July 25 general elections from the eastern city of Lahore. As I fumbled in my purse for my keys, the front door rattled and I heard footsteps on the other side.

“Madam, is someone else home?” my driver, Shaukat, asked. I live alone.

I dialed the police emergency helpline and explained that someone was inside my house. Commandos brandishing automatic rifles soon arrived and entered my home, going from room to room, looking under beds and behind sofas.

Nothing was missing. In the lounge, we found one window, which locks from the inside, open.…  Seguir leyendo »

Qu’on le veuille ou non, Benyamin Nétanyahou aura marqué de son empreinte l’histoire d’Israël d’une façon décisive. L’homme n’attire pas la sympathie. Même en Israël, sa popularité est incertaine. Mais il dégage une impression de puissance qui force l’admiration.

En face de lui, les Palestiniens sont défaits, entre le régime vieillissant et corrompu de Mahmoud Abbas et la violence sans stratégie du Hamas.

Quant au monde arabe, il détourne son regard et laisse faire. Il a d’autres soucis, en Syrie, en Irak, au Yémen, en Libye, mais surtout avec l’Iran qui avance ses pions de façon menaçante.

Benyamin Nétanyahou peut donc faire son marché sans être dérangé et profiter tout à loisir de la présence de Donald Trump à la Maison Blanche.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi and foreign investors attend the kingdom's Global Competitiveness Forum in 2016 in Riyadh. Photo: Getty Images.

At the OPEC meeting held in Vienna on 22 June, Saudi Arabia successfully pushed for an increase in oil production, despite opposition from Iran, Iraq and other smaller producers within the organization. But this victory may yet prove hollow, as the kingdom’s biggest challenge when it comes to balancing production and prices is domestic.

On the one hand, keeping oil prices low helps secure Saudi Arabia’s market share, satisfy the US and increase pressure on Iran. On the other, it is in its interests to keep potential revenues at a level that will maximize the value of its intended initial public offering (IPO) of a stake in Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, as well as boost the prospects of Vision 2030 – the wide-ranging economic diversification plan closely associated with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.…  Seguir leyendo »

Imran Khan, el jugador de cricket convertido en político, será el próximo primer ministro de Pakistán. El recuento de votos se completó tres días después de que se celebraran las elecciones el 25 de julio, cuando llevó a la victoria a su partido, el Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Se requiere que un partido (o coalición) tenga el apoyo de al menos 137 miembros de la Asamblea Nacional para convocar a un gobierno y Khan está cerca de lograr esa cifra. Tras ganar 115 escaños, el PTI debería poder obtener el apoyo de algunos independientes y miembros de media decena de partidos menores, y es probable que jure el cargo antes del 14 de agosto, cuando Pakistán celebra sus 71 años de independencia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two weeks ago, after Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli soldier, Israel launched one of the fiercest aerial assaults on Gaza since the 2014 war. The hostilities followed months of tension, including Palestinian rocket fire against Israeli communities and waves of Israeli airstrikes on Hamas positions in Gaza. After three wars in the past 10 years, many believe a fourth war between Israel and Hamas looms. With the peace process at an impasse, the conflict seems intractable.

But new research suggests a possible way forward. In a new working paper, Saumitra Jha of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Moses Shayo of Hebrew University found that giving Israelis a short, intensive opportunity to trade stocks made them much more willing to negotiate with the Palestinians.…  Seguir leyendo »

Comment comprendre la loi de l’Etat-nation ? Pourquoi maintenant ? Le projet a émergé en 2011, porté par Avi Dichter, un député du parti Kadima qui a fini par rejoindre le Likoud. Il définit l’Etat d’Israël comme le « foyer national du peuple juif qui réalise son aspiration à l’autodétermination conformément à son patrimoine culturel et historique ». Ce projet, maintes fois retouché, n’est pas anodin. Il donnait priorité à la dimension juive de l’Etat au détriment de sa dimension démocratique. Il permettait notamment aux habitants de localités juives situées dans des zones mixtes, juives et arabes, comme la Galilée, de récuser des candidats à l’acquisition d’un droit de résidence s’ils n’étaient pas juifs.…  Seguir leyendo »