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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 34:
September 30, 2016


Tel Aviv Notes

"From Great Expectations to Bitter Disappointment: Egypt's Youth, After Three Years of al-Sisi's Presidency" by Mira Tzoreff
Five years have passed since hundreds of thousands of youth first flooded Cairo's Tahrir Square with the unequivocal and uncompromising demand: "Irhal!" ("Get out! Leave!"). Their actions resulted in the deposition of two presidents, Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi, in successive revolutionary upheavals on January 25, 2011, and June 30, 2013. President 'Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi understands that Egypt's revolutionary youth expect creative solutions to the youth crisis (azmat al-shabab). But the Sisi regime has been forced to invest most of its efforts in the Sinai, in the continuing battle against the Islamic State-aligned organization, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. Sisi is also searching desperately for solutions to the Egyptian economic crisis. A real solution to the youth crisis is not yet in sight — particularly for the educated and unemployed, who can't get married and start families because of the difficult economic situation. And a 2013 report by the African Development Bank shows a direct link between youth unemployment and political and socio-economic instability.
Source: Tel Aviv Notes/The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University — September 26, 2016


Iqtisadi

"The Development of the Sino-Iranian Limited Partnership: China's $600-Billion Proposition" by Michael Schwartz
Michael Schwartz examines Sino-Iranian relations and how commercial and trade relations have changed between China and Iran since the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1.
Source: Iqtisadi: Middle East Economy/The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University — September 28, 2016


The Jerusalem Report: Mideast Monitor

"Indefinite Agony" by Bruce Maddy-Weitzman
The partial cease-fire in Syria that resulted from the intense and contentious negotiations between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov brought a short respite to the long-suffering Syrian people during the recent Eid al-Adha holiday. But the deal began to unravel within days of its going into effect, and the chances of it providing a way forward to end Syria's agony appear remote.
Source: "Mideast Monitor" Column/The Jerusalem Report — October 16, 2016


Bayan: The Arabs in Israel

The first essay by Dr. Inbal Tal addresses the way the Islamic movement in Israel utilizes virtual social networks as part of its activities among Muslim women in Israel. The second essay is an edited version of a lecture by Prof. Elie Rekhess given this past March at a conference that celebrated 20 years of the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation.
Source: Bayan: The Arabs in Israel/A publication of the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation, TAU's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and the Institute for National Security Studies — September 2016


Middle East News Brief

Zimbabwe — Eddie Zvinonzwa: Zim — The tragedy of waiting
All aspects of life in Zimbabwe seem to involve endless waiting. This is certainly true of the expected elections, which have historically promised change with few results. Citizens tired of waiting have launched protests, while political parties have emerged. These developments have given President Robert Mugabe the excuse to crack down on such opposition, including outlawing protests in Harare. But Zimbabweans face the kind of challenges — poverty, unemployment, and the lack of basic services — that demand they take responsibility for bringing about change.
Source: Daily News (Harare) — September 22, 2016

Kenya — Editorial: UN must do more to bring peace to Africa
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto argued in front of the UN General Assembly that the UN's overseas partners must do more to address the significant problems facing the Horn of Africa, especially in Somalia and South Sudan. Kenya and other neighboring countries have shouldered most of the responsibility for trying to contain these conflicts, but they cannot do it alone. The UN must become a more active player in trying to stabilize South Sudan. The international community has cut back on their efforts in the region, which is an unfortunate development.
Source: Standard Digital (Nairobi) — September 24, 2016

Egypt — Abdulrahman al-Rashed: Egypt's flirtation with the Syrian regime
Egypt has chosen to stay out of the Syrian conflict over the past five years, focusing on domestic issues. It doesn't fund the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad or its opposition, and has asserted its neutrality on a number of occasions. This neutrality has nevertheless been interpreted to mean that Egypt has sided with al-Assad. The Gulf States believed that former president Mohamed Morsi was friendly with Iran. The current Egyptian rulers believe they can step back from its historic regional leadership, and because of that, the opportunity to impose stability in neighboring Libya was lost.
Source: al-Arabiya (Dubai) — September 28, 2016

Egypt — Azza Radwan Sedky: The ramifications of rumors, hearsay, and gossip
Spreading rumors is a method of warfare in Egypt. The country is rife with damaging rumors, including that the water supply had become contaminated. This is not a new phenomenon. Rumors often circulated about Mubarak. But today, existing anxiety fed by gossip can have significant consequences. The fabricated story of an attack on a Saudi traveler may very well result in serious harm to the Egyptian tourism industry. Officials can stop the trend by being transparent, accurate, and proactive. Ordinary Egyptians, for their part, can help by not repeating these stories unless they have been verified.
Source: al-Ahram (Cairo) — September 22, 2016

Jordan — Osama al-Sharif: Jordan: War comes to the home front
The assassination of the leftist activist Nahed Hatter, a Jordanian Christian, has aroused significant debate within Jordanian society. The government and political parties condemned his death, but there were many voices in social media who praised it and called for more violence. The real issue is that Jordan is beset by a fundamental conflict between those upholding civil freedoms and the rule of law, and those espousing a takfiri-jihadi ideology. Jordanians are prominently represented among jihadist combatants in the Syrian conflict, and many are radicalized in Jordan itself. Unfortunately, the state doesn't seem to be able to cope with this phenomenon.
Source: Arab News (Jeddah) — September 28, 2016

Lebanon — Eyad Abu Shakra: Do Lebanon's Christians know what they are doing?
The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) claims to be the sole spokesmen for Lebanon's Christians, but in fact it's the biggest threat to the community's interests. FPM's contradictory actions include (1) opposition to the government, (2) providing political cover to Hizballah, (3) attempting to undermine the constitution, (4) inciting against public order, racial and factional discrimination, and (4) supporting Iran in its sectarian war against the Arab world. Lebanese Christians engaged in such adventurism in the past and brought great risk to their community. Their behavior today carries similar risks.
Source: as-Sharq al-Awsat (London) — September 22, 2016

United Arab Emirates — Editorial: Maternity leave change is a step ahead
The new maternity leave law has increased the number of days allotted to new mothers employed in the public sector to three full months. They can also leave early to nurse their children after returning to work. This is a good development with benefits beyond the benefit to the mothers. There will be many more opportunities for Emiratis to secure temporary employment in the public sector, for example. The government should go further, introducing reforms that will smooth the hiring process for temporary vacancies as well. It should also consider expanding opportunities to those from other backgrounds.
Source: The National (Abu Dhabi) — September 29, 2016

Turkey — Semih Idiz: Junking Turkey
Moody's recently cut Turkey's sovereign credit rating to "junk." The Turkish government remains in denial about this. The new rating is the result of increasing political uncertainty in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's approach to economics is not based on economic reality, but on political considerations. Erdoğan wants the Central Bank to reduce interest rates to create the impression that all is well with the economy. Turkey risks losing its "best among the worst" economic status if this trend continues. And eventually the consumer market will suffer as wages stagnate. Meanwhile, Turks are uncertain of the future, and are saving rather than spending.
Source: Hürriyet Daily News (Istanbul) — September 27, 2016

Turkey — Sibel Hurtas: How a kick rattled Turkey
Ayşegül Terzi, a young nurse, was recently attacked on an Istanbul bus for wearing shorts. This is only one example of many in which where women are being attacked in public for their behavior or attire. But the attack on Terzi led to widespread protests among secular Turks. Some argue that violence against women has been encouraged by the official rhetoric of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which seeks to reinforce traditional, conservative roles on women. The AKP has tried to disprove such allegations but hasn't gone far enough. The question remains whether the government's reactions would have been so tepid if an outwardly observant woman had been attacked.
Source: al-Monitor (Washington, DC) — September 26, 2016

Kurdistan Region — Arif Qurbany: All fights for Kirkuk have and will be about its oil
Kirkuk is important to the Kurds primarily because of its oil, despite claims to the contrary by Kurdish leaders. This has been a major stumbling block in the negotiation for Kurdish independence, because Iraq's Arab leaders don't want to surrender Kirkuk's oil either. The campaign against ISIS has resulted in Kurdish economic control over Kirkuk, and the Baghdad government has largely tolerated it because that's preferable to Sunni Arab control in Kirkuk. But the Kurds have not drawn the correct conclusions. The city has only become a source of internal contention for Kurdish leaders as a result.
Source: Rudaw (Erbil) — September 23, 2016

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