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The Briefing


We're pleased to present this week's round-up of Middle East insight and analysis from
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Gail Reiss, President & CEO

Volume III, Number 23:
July 1, 2016


"Brexit: England's Arab Spring" by Paul Rivlin
The result of the UK referendum on continued membership in the European Union can be seen as an "English Arab Spring": a vote against the establishment by millions of people who felt politically and economically alienated. In their best-selling book, Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson suggest that the success of nations hinges on inclusiveness more than any anything else. This means increasing political rights and expanding economic opportunities for all. Countries that succeeded followed the path of inclusiveness, those that failed did not.
Source: Iqtisadi: Middle East Economy/The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University — June 30, 2016

Tel Aviv Notes

"Turkish–Israeli Reconciliation: The End of 'Precious Loneliness'?" by Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak
Israel and Turkey are close to reestablishing full diplomatic relations, which were severed during the Mavi Marmara flotilla crisis in 2010. This reconciliation is part of Turkey's foreign policy recalibration under the Justice and Development Party's new Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
Source: Tel Aviv Notes/The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University — June 26, 2016

Middle East News Brief

Nigeria — Ayo Sogunro: The apotheosis of Ayo Fayose
The current governor of the Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose, is known for being disrespectful, tactless, and troublesome. As a public officer, Fayose must be held to a higher standard, but the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's (EFCC) decision to freeze his bank account is troubling. It’s unclear whether or not the Commission had a court order. If not, the EFCC is corrupt. If yes, it would necessarily be ex parte, because Fayose enjoys official immunity and cannot be forced to appear in court. The 1999 constitution protects elected officials and their deputies from civil or criminal proceedings while in office, but there is no good reason for this practice to continue. It’s undemocratic and violates the core idea of equality. The immunity clause should be removed, and the case of Fayose’s frozen bank account may just be the vehicle that makes it happen.
Source: Punch (Lagos) — June 26, 2016

Tanzania — Jenerali Ulimwengu: Heaven knows where we are going, but Magufuli knows he can walk on water
Tanzanian President John Magufuli has acquired an unhelpful and unrealistic degree of self-importance, bolstered by earning accolades for some recent actions and statements. He has had some significant achievements in fighting corruption, but his governing style is capricious rather than well-planned and clearly articulated. It seems that he doesn't have any real plans for the future. This lack of political vision, as well as Magufuli’s efforts to de-politicize the student sector, will not solve Tanzania's problems in the long term, despite current popular opinion.
Source: The East African (Nairobi) — June 26, 2016

Libya — Azeem Ibrahim: Will Libya survive as a state?
Libya has become a proxy ground for war between Russia and the West. This has the potential to be even riskier than the war in Syria, where the West has largely limited itself to air strikes. In Libya, there are special forces troops already on the ground, along with the possibility of deployment of regular ground forces from European countries as well. Media coverage has focused on Libya's struggle against ISIS, but the real conflict lies in the battle between two competing governments: one in Tripoli, supported by Islamist groups including al-Qaeda, backed by the West and recognized by the UN; and one in the East, democratically elected and supported by Russia. The US is unlikely to support the reunification of Libya, not wanting further clashes with Russia. The possibility of a unified state is diminishing. The best-case scenario may very well be a formal division of the country. Most likely, the domestic conflict will stall and tense separations will continue to deepen.
Source: al-Arabiya (Dubai) — June 29, 2016

Bahrain — Abdulrahman Al-Rashed: Revoking Qassim's nationality
The Bahraini government recently revoked the citizenship of Issa Qassim, a Shi'i cleric who engaged in political activity against it. The Qassim-led opposition wants to impose an extremist Shi'i regime while pledging allegiance to Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei. The government represents a sectarian, Iranian-affiliated movement that cares little about political rights and freedoms. Revoking the citizenship of extremists is becoming increasingly acceptable. Many countries – including the US, Australia, Singapore, India, and Israel – are using it to denounce the crimes of an individual and to avoid any further responsibility for past or future crimes committed abroad.
Source: as-Sharq al-Awsat (London) — June 24, 2016

Lebanon and Jordan — Azeem Ibrahim: Lebanon and Jordan may collapse under a new wave of refugees
Europe's current political crisis is ostensibly over the influx of refugees. But in reality European countries have taken in only a fraction of the Middle Eastern refugees. Turkey's stability has been threatened by the massive inpouring of Syrian refugees, but the countries under real threat are Lebanon and Jordan, which may very well disintegrate under the pressure. If that happens, Europe will be forced to contend with even more refugees. It’s critical that Europe find a solution to Syria, which will ease the burden of the host countries surrounding it.
Source: al-Arabiya (Dubai) — June 26, 2016

Lebanon — Hussain Abdul-Hussain: Why not Lebanon 2030?
Saudi Arabia is embarking on a new program of modernization, while Lebanon is still trapped in old patterns of sectarianism and ancient feuds. The Lebanese people historically have played an important role as merchants and bankers to the rest of the region. But when Lebanon abandons its neutrality, history has proven that it faces destruction. Hezbollah has ensured that Lebanon remains in a state of war despite the fact that this has led to instability and blocked economic and diplomatic opportunities. Stability is possible, but only if Hezbollah modifies its ideological stance and enables the country to reclaim the role it once held.
Source: NOW. (Beirut) — June 27, 2016

Jordan — Musa Keilani: It is high time to address internal front
The extremist group Daesh is posing a rising threat to Jordan, as evidenced by recent raids on Daesh cells, increasing incidences of attacks on Jordanian Army positions, and an increasing number of Jordanians fighting in Syria and Iraq on behalf of Daesh. In response, Jordanians, with US help, are installing a high-tech outpost on their border with Syria and Iraq to prevent further infiltration. Border security is important, but it’s not enough. Both the government and Muslim clergy need to address the rising feeling among younger Jordanians that Daesh is the sole defender of Syrian Sunnis, or risk losing more of its youth to Daesh and other extremist groups.
Source: The Jordan Times (Amman) — June 25, 2016

Turkey — Barçin Yinanç: Turkey's cold peace with Israel?
Turkey has been preoccupied with two major issues recently. The first is the British referendum to exit the European Union, which unnerved Turks who want to remain tied to the bloc. The second is the imminent rapprochement with Israel, about which most people are feeling positive. But the issues are not that simple. Brexit may impact ties with Europe, but it’s unrealistic to assume that Turkey will be accepted into the EU regardless. It is conceivable, however, that Brexit will lead to the creation of new membership models that may be more in Turkey's interest. Meanwhile, it’s an open question whether the renewed relationship with Israel will hold. Even if this new normalization bears fruit in the form of academic, economic, and cultural ties, the ideological elephant in the room remains a barrier to true strategic cooperation, and Tukey’s plan to deliver aid to Gaza may well lead to friction.
Source: Hurriyet Daily News (Istanbul) — June 28, 2016

Turkey — Sibel Hurtas: Why Turkish women are rallying behind Cilem Dogan
Cilem Dogan made Turkish news when she killed her abusive husband last July. This and similar incidents have revealed a gender division in Turkish discourse regarding domestic violence. When men kill their wives, they claim it was because their wives disobeyed them. Women who kill their husbands usually do so because the justice system failed to protect them. This is the case with Dogan, who filed many complaints and orders of protection against her husband to no avail. Women's rights groups have supported Dogan throughout her trial and appeals process. By doing so, they’re raising public awareness about the lack of support for women in the legal system.
Source: al-Monitor (Washington, DC) — June 23, 2016

Kurdistan Region — Ayub Nuri: If Brits weren't happy with EU, why should Kurds be happy with Iraq?
The British people recently voted for independence, despite the EU's economic benefits. They want to make their own laws and decide their own future. The Kurds of Iraq should be granted this as well. They have a just case to separate from Iraq, which is undemocratic and actively blocks Kurdish prosperity. Moreover, between a crumbling Iraq and Syria, a Kurdish state will not threaten world stability, as will the Brexit. It will instead contribute to a more stable Middle East. Despite this, the world has accepted Britain's right to exit the EU, but continues to deny the Kurdish right to exit Iraq.
Source: Rudaw (Erbil) — June 24, 2016


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