Had anyone asked back in January what kind of risks you thought might be giving financial markets a jolt by mid-year, odds are that you would have talked about the Federal Reserve’s intentions with respect to quantitative easing, the outlook for economic growth and whether S&P 500 companies are delivering the kind of earnings that analysts had been expecting. That is the problem with geopolitical events, in a nutshell. They tend to fall into the category that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously referred to as “unknown unknowns”: They can’t be predicted.
“Mansour is relatively unknown in Egypt’s political scene,” says Christian Achrainer, political scientist at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). The 67-year-old Mansour, who has been working for the country’s constitutional court since 1992, had been in office as president of the court for just two days when the military pushed Morsi out. Morsi had appointed Mansour to the post after his predecessor, Maher al-Behairis retired at the end of June. A new law which came into force after Hosni Mubarak was toppled forces the president to appoint one of the three longest-serving vice presidents as president of the court.
The recent discovery of oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean off the Israeli, Cypriot and Lebanese coasts is a great boost to the independence and self-sufficiency of these countries.
But the discoveries also add to existing tensions between Israel and Lebanon as both are claiming the oil and gas reserves as their own. In April, natural gas from the Israeli Tamar reserve began to flow from an offshore rig in the Mediterranean Sea into Israel, giving the country the chance to hone its energy security and freedom.
The collapse of regimes like Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt, which many considered “an exemplar of…durable authoritarianism” was a salient reminder to many that such revolutions are “inherently unpredictable.” Before long some began to speculate that the protest movements might spread to authoritarian states outside the Arab world, including China. Indeed, the Chinese government was among those that feared the unrest would spread to China because, as one observer noted, China faced the same kind of “social and political tensions caused by rising inequality, injustice, and corruption” that plagued much of the Arab world on the eve of the uprisings.
“The problem with the Brotherhood is that they came to power but are still dealing with the nation as they did when they were in the opposition,” said Abdel-Jalil el-Sharnoubi, former editor-in-chief of the group’s website who left the Brotherhood in May 2011.
“Because they cannot trust the state, they have created their own,” he added. The notion of a state within a state has precedents elsewhere in the Arab world. In Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah is the de facto government in much of the south and east of the country and has its own army and telephone network.
Opponents and supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi clashed near the presidential palace Wednesday. Large crowds of Morsi supporters converged on the palace as the day wore on, until they eventually outnumbered opponents. Edward Yeranian in Cairo reports that witnesses say the president’s supporters battled opponents and tore down their tents and forced many to flee the area.
Gulf Arab countries should work together to stop Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood plotting to undermine governments in the region, the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister said yesterday.
The UAE has arrested around 60 local Islamists this year, accusing them of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood – which is banned in the country – and conspiring to overthrow the government.
Egypt is preparing to use aircraft and tanks in Sinai for the first time since the 1973 war with Israel in its offensive against militants in the border area, said security sources.
The plans to step up the operation were being finalised by Egypt’s newly appointed Defence Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he made his first visit to Sinai on Monday following the killing of 16 border guards on August5.
Egypt blamed the attack on Islamist militants and the conflict is an early test for President Mohamed Mursi – elected in June following the overthrow last year of Hosni Mubarak – to prove he can rein in militants on the border with Israel, Reuters reports.
THERE IS a crisis of confidence in Cairo. The wrangling between the judiciary and the executive might plunge the strife-torn country into a renewed phase of power struggle.
Often, it is so mindboggling to interpret as to what each organ of the state means when it comes down with its own diagnosis to overcome the vacuum at work. The military junta that has ruled Egypt de facto since president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown seems to be in a straight-jacket module while asserting its influence.
Egypt’s top intelligence agency, long a secretive power behind the country’s ruling system, is taking a small but unprecedented step out of the shadows in an apparent attempt to win the public’s support in the face of potential challenges from the new Islamist president.
In an unusual move, the General Intelligence Service — known as the “Mukhabarat” in Arabic — released a 41-minute-long documentary boasting of its achievements, presenting itself as the defender of the nation and vowing to continue to protect the country.
“The eye of the Egyptian intelligence does not sleep,” the narrator says. In one of the film’s many dramatic images, it shows footage of a falcon — the agency’s symbol — circling in the sky and swooping down to snatch up a snake.
For months now, Western policy makers have been racking their brains to figure out what strategic interests have made Russia so intent on supporting the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad — a leader who, facing a popular uprising, seemed to be on his way out anyway.
It is an understandable question, but perhaps the wrong one. Decisions are flowing from President Vladimir V. Putin, whose career has left him overwhelmingly wary both of revolutions and of Western intervention.
Egypt entered its final day of voting on Sunday with very few people going to the polls to choose Hosni Mubarak’s successor under a cloud of apprehension and anticipation. Turnout appeared dismal in a sign of just how polarizing and demoralizing the choice between a military strongman and conservative Islamist is for the Arab World’s most populous nation.
The country’s military junta was expected to issue a constitutional decree within hours, according to the state’s Middle East News Agency, which would define the president’s powers. It would be a move that revolutionaries and the once-repressed Muslim Brotherhood condemned as a sign the military rulers continue to dictate rather than manage the transition to what Egyptians had hoped would be democracy.
The Egyptian armed forces will start to secure polling stations on Thursday, two days before the beginning of the runoff vote in Egypt’s presidential elections, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news portal, which quoted an anonymous source saying “using force is a measure of last resort” for security personnel.
The unnamed source said: “Securing the [first round of the] presidential elections and the parliamentary polls [last winter] was beneficial; the security personnel are now trained, so that if there is a problem or a situation they will try to solve it with diplomacy. Using force is a measure of last resort.
Britain’s arms industry and other companies are to be called before politicians to explain why taxpayer funds ended up helping Robert Mugabe buy five Hawk fighter jets and 1030 police Land Rovers which he later used to suppress dissent.
The bosses of the world’s biggest defence and oil companies, including BAE Systems and BP, will be asked to account for why hundreds of millions of pounds of government money was used to help military dictators build up their arsenals, and facilitated environmental and human rights abuses across the world.
An official inquiry into the government Export Credits Guarantee Department’s underwriting of the loans will begin to call witnesses next week, The Guardian has learnt.
CAIRO — Candidates in Egypt’s presidential race scrambled Sunday to find their footing in an increasingly slippery field as new questions emerged about whether Hosni Mubarak’s former spy chief would be allowed to compete.
A day after the presidential election commission knocked out of the race three of the five front-runners on various technical grounds — with just over a month until the voting begins — on Sunday it clarified that it had disqualified the former intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, because he had fallen just 31 short of the 30,000 notarized statements of endorsements required to enter the race. It was unclear whether his campaign would be allowed to make up the difference.
Wisner arrived on invitation of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Georgian president’s main political competitor, and has already met with the Georgian businessman at his business-center on a hill above Tbilisi.
No information was available about in what capacity Wisner is visiting. After the meeting Wednesday, the guest said he received good information about the current reality of Georgian political life.
“I’m enormously interested in Georgia’s future, the future of Georgian democracy. Over the past 20 years I’ve followed your history as closely as Americans normally can or are able to do and I believe very much in the course that you’ve set for yourselves to have vibrant democracy that contributes to stability throughout this region of the world and that is in harmony with the most fundamental values of Euro Atlantic community and my country,” Wisner said.
The Syrian regime is in no doubt about who sits at the center of a web of international conspiracy seeking to undermine it: the rulers of the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar.
Like the regime of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and that of Muammar al-Qaddafi’s Libya before it, Syria has singled out Qatar as an éminence grise behind the unrest in its streets.
In a dispatch on Tuesday, the Syrian State news agency SANA claimed to have discovered a document showing Qatar was funding writers in Russia to fabricate news about Syria.
Just days after the departure of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, the nation’s new, self-appointed military leaders pledged, within six months, a swift transition to civilian rule.
Crowds of the same protesters that demanded Mubarak’s ouster cheered as their army said it would steer the nation toward a “free, democratic system.” Seven months later, however, many Egyptians are finding that little has changed.
Since it took over patrolling the streets from the police on January 28, 2011, Egypt’s military has arrested almost 12,000 civilians and brought them before military tribunals, Human Rights Watch said today. This is more than the total number of civilians who faced military trials during the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak and undermines Egypt’s move from dictatorship to democratic rule, Human Rights Watch said.
“Nearly 12,000 prosecutions since February is astounding and shows how Egypt’s military rulers are undermining the transition to democracy,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The military can end these trials today – all it takes is one order to end this travesty of justice.”
In a September 5 news conference Gen. Adel Morsy of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said that between January 28 and August 29, military tribunals tried 11,879 civilians. The tribunals convicted 8,071, including 1,836 suspended sentences; a further 1,225 convictions are awaiting ratification by the military.