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The demonstrations, police repression, and continued violence in al-Hoceima in the northern Rif region of Morocco bring back not only the rebellious past of that region, but also memories among Moroccans of Hassan II’s repression—the so-called years of lead. The events also bring the country full circle back to the beginning of the Arab uprising of 2011 when optimists viewed Mohammed VI’s reasoned reaction to the February 20 uprising as a sign that Morocco had indeed taken a different path from the one taken by the fallen leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and the still standing one in Syria.

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When the extremist group known as the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) was expelled from the northern city of Mosul, locals there were happy. But now, not so much, says Qassim Badran, a former employee of the local power department. The government stopped paying his salary back in 2014 when the Islamic State, or IS, group, took over the city. Even though the federal government said they would start paying civil servants again—and there are many of these because the Iraqi government is the country’s major employer—no money has arrived for Badran and he’s been busy setting up a small store in his garden, so he can actually make some kind of living.

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Despite the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) in Skhirat in 2015, the political situation in Libya appears no closer to being resolved. Indeed, there is now a widening consensus within Libya and among concerned states that the LPA must be amended. Over the last two years, cleavages within Libya deepened amid exacerbating interference from regional and international powers with divergent interests in the conflict. The fractured state of politics at the national level delayed top-down approaches to recovery and reconstruction. As an interim step, in concert with broader efforts to reform the LPA, UN negotiators should consider a process of devolving some power in Libya to local governing bodies.

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Monday’s referendum in Kurdistan resulted in a situation whereby all parties lack good options. To be sure, Masoud Barzani, the leader of Kurdistan Region Government (KRG), achieved some immediate political gains. He managed to mobilize his base by calling for and conducting the referendum despite international objections. In doing so, he strengthened his political stance and forced his Kurdish rivals to follow his leadership, which itself is legally dubious since his term was extended via a partisan agreement of ambiguous legal basis. Though the results are still not finalized, the vote was expected to give a clear ‘yes’ to the call for independence. Now comes the difficult question: what is Barzani going to do with the referendum and its outcome?

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Once the United States fully committed to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh), the ultimate demise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria was never in question. The issue was what to do the ‘day after’ ISIS: specifically, how to transition to a post-ISIS Middle East and to confront the enduring sectarian issues and ethnic fault lines gave rise to ISIS in the first place.

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Even the most pessimistic political leaders in Hamas could not have foreseen the repercussions of the involvement of Gazan Salafi jihadists in an Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) operation targeting an Egyptian security checkpoint at al-Barth (south of Rafah in Sinai) on July 7, 2017. The timing is critical because Hamas-Egyptian relations are experiencing an unprecedented breakthrough by trying to enforce stricter procedures to control the borders with Egypt and has arrested dozens of pro-Islamic State Palestinians in Gaza. Additionally, Hamas responded positively to Egyptian efforts towards achieving national reconciliation with the Fattah movement. Furthermore, Hamas announced the dissolution of the administrative committee that it had formed to administer Gaza strip. It also stated its readiness to formulate a national unity government.  

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Despite the two previous unsuccessful attempts to pass a draft resolution to establish a UN independent international investigation commission into possible Yemen war crimes, sixty-seven Human Rights groups recently initiated another call demanding the establishment of the inquiry commission. The call for a commission is unlikely to be successful, but if it is formed it runs the risk of being hijacked by state interests and failing to hold accountable certain actors, particularly members of the Saudi-led coalition who wield influence at the United Nations.

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 US President Donald Trump waived economic sanctions on Iran’s banks and oil exports on September 14, as part of a law passed by Congress in 2015, following the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement—or Iran nuclear deal. The law requires every 120 days for the US president to decide whether to waive the renewal of economic sanctions. The more significant deadline in October is whether Iran is in compliance with the deal and which Trump seems intent on ending the agreement. The ever-mounting aggressive rhetoric and actions of the current US administration towards Iran signal a potential shift in the Obama legacy of the Iran deal. The US could further disrupt the balance in the region if it ends the Iran deal, yet in stark contrast, European allies continue to advocate for a pragmatic solution to save it.

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The subject of extremist Islamism, and refuting it, remains a live one—and it is unlikely that it will change anytime soon. If there is ever a comprehensive and thorough response to extremist Islamism, it will have to take on board the need to deconstruct religious arguments from within religion.

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On September 12, during a visit to Seoul, South Korea, Egypt’s Defense Minister reportedly announced that Egypt would be severing military ties with the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. The alleged announcement and subsequent speculation, which was not immediately confirmed by the Egyptian government, comes as the United States and other members of the international community have repeatedly called on the Egyptian government to cut ties with the isolated hermit state.

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