MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

MENASource
MenaSource logo

Follow MENASource:

TwitterRSS


The current fight against the Islamic State (ISIS, IS, Daesh) and Salafi jihadis in Libya should not distract from other Salafi groups in Benghazi and Tripoli that are spreading and enforcing anti-democractic and illiberal views and practices. The Madkhali Salafist-inspired groups are slowly gaining ground via both the al-Tawhid Brigades in the east under Field Marshal Hafter’s umbrella, and the Rada forces in the west that support the UN-sponsored Presidential Council. Both strands adopt an ideology that grants the ruler unquestioned authority, is intolerable to opposing views, and encourages the use of force against opponents. Such negative stances on elections and separation of power put Libya’s political process at risk. 

Read More

The Turkish government, along with Iran and Russia, met this week in Astana, Kazakhstan to discuss events in Syria and the enforcement of four-de-escalation zones spread across Syria. In the previous Astana meeting in September 2017, the three sides agreed on a plan to send up to 500 Turkish troops into Idlib to man checkpoints, as part of a broader effort to monitor a de-escalation of hostilities of most of the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime in the area. Turkey has assumed responsibility for the bulk of the opposition, presumably as part of a broader effort to protect these groups from regime bombardment and to establish a credible and united movement to negotiate with the regime.

Read More

The Saudi Arabian Crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, recently declared that the kingdom sought a ‘return’ to the ‘moderate Islam’ of pre-1979. The international media understandably paid a great deal of attention—but how significant is this? Martin Chulov, the Guardian’s Middle East Correspondent, asked our non-resident senior fellow, Dr HA Hellyer, some questions about it—the Center is pleased to provided an edited transcript of their conversation below.

Read More

Although Tunisia is still seen favorably in Washington, the US is unlikely to be its savior. No matter how much Washington reflects on Tunisia as a successful democratic transition, the mood in the US capital will not lead to large amounts of aid to magically fix Tunisia’s security and economic woes. Only by looking to itself can Tunisia complete its democratic transition.

Read More

Not many heads of governments in the Middle East can move swiftly between Riyadh, Cairo, Amman, Ankara, and Tehran, and receive a warm welcome in all those capitals. Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, followed this itinerary in the last few days, trying to create the image of a competent leader who victoriously took Iraq out of an existential fight with the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) and saved its unity from what is perceived in Baghdad as “Kurdish secessionism”. Iraqi senior officials always advocated the idea that a strong Iraq could be a bridge in this highly divided and polarized region, a message Abadi emphasized when he demanded the United States and Iran spare his country the ramifications of their conflict.

Read More

Tunisia’s transition to democracy is in a difficult spot: the public is frustrated with the political and economic situation, but the political elite are shying away from needed public engagement. Two recent events stand out: the 2018 draft budget law put forward this month and the recent postponement of the local elections to next year. By postponing the elections, Tunisian politicians forwent an opportunity to engage the citizenry at a time when that dialogue will be critical—as the government begins to implement economic reforms that are expected to grow its economy, changes will also bring layoffs and tax hikes to a population already largely dissatisfied with its government’s performance.

Read More

France played a significant role in the negotiations that led to the deal with Iran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The French wanted a “robust deal,” and they were concerned by the Obama administration’s tendency to turn a blind eye to Iran’s regional policy with the aim of maximizing the chances of a nuclear deal.

This does not mean that the French wished to include regional questions or ballistic missiles issues in the negotiations. Separating these subjects was quickly agreed upon for reasons of efficiency. The French simply believed that negotiating nuclear issues should not be incompatible with countering Iranian actions in the region, and notably in Syria. Two years later, we face the same dilemma.

Read More

In the wake of the September 25 referendum in Kurdistan, the Iraqi government announced on October 15 that it began a military deployment to reestablish authority in Kirkuk in coordination with the Peshmerga. It soon became clear that the Peshmerga mentioned belonged to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)—specifically, the Talabani family wing—which views aggressive moves toward independence with far more skepticism than its political rivals in the Kurdistan Regional Government dominated by Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The PUK drew the ire of fellow Kurds who viewed the deal as facilitating the federal forces’ reclamation of the territory. To complicate matters further, some reports indicated that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) Quds Force leader Qassim Suleimani appears to have played a role in convincing the Talabani family to broker the deal in the absence of any other international or regional mediator. These events highlight the depth of intra-Kurdish divisions at a time of rapidly rising tensions.

Read More

As Tip O’Neill coined it, “all politics is local.” Accordingly, the local dimension of the Kurdistan referendum is a core aspect, but underplayed as the news focuses on regional and international repercussions. The internal political moves that led up to the referendum and the referendum’s results will define KRG politics in the near future, but they are less clear to those outside of the Kurdistan region due to their complexity and language barriers.

Read More

The United Kingdom has long employed a carrot and stick technique when dealing with Egypt, threatening to suspend aid and economic or military dealings in response to the country’s deteriorating human rights situation. However, such ultimatums are often fleeting, as the UK government places its own short-term interests over improvements in Egypt’s human rights record. The risk, though, is that this undermines the human rights situation in Egypt, and by doing so could worsen the security situation in the long run.

Read More