Blog entries from: MEI Editor's Blog

A Blog by the Editor of the Middle East Journal

1 to 10 of 325

August 28 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Aug 28 2014, 17:19:00

A piece by Mary Fitzgerald at Foreign Policy offers some insights into the domestic political implications of the alleged Egypt/UAE strikes: "Libya's New Power Brokers."

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From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Aug 28 2014, 08:49:00

Midan al-Tahrir, Cairo, sometime in the 1960s: the then new Nile Hilton (today no longer a Hilton) and Arab Socialist Union HQ (later National Democratic Party HQ, burned in the 2011 Revolution), with a working fountain in the Midan.

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August 27 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Wed Aug 27 2014, 21:16:00

Longtime readers may recall that a couple of times a year at least, some Arab intellectual or literary figure laments the death (or moribund status) of Arabic, usually either because young people are speaking colloquial instead of fusha or because they're mixing it with foreign languages. You can find some of these earlier posts here. One of the better responses to this frequent theme was Elias Muhanna's 2010 "The Death of Arabic is Greatly Exaggerated."  He pointed to this quote from the lexicographer Ibn Manzur:

Ibn Manzur was driven by a belief that Arabic's position as the ultimate language of social prestige, literary eloquence, and religious knowledge was under threat. "In our time, speaking Arabic is regarded as a vice," he wrote in his preface. "I have composed the present ...

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From MEI Editor's Blog Wed Aug 27 2014, 16:41:00

During the two weeks I was on vacation and posting historical posts, much of the academic and think-tank world was wrestling with the question of the Islamic State (though it's sill easier to call it ISIS in English or Da'ish  in Arabic since the acronyms are pronounceable). I thought a roundup of some of these pieces and reports might be timely.

Let's start close to home, with recent opinion pieces by colleagues here at MEI:

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August 26 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Tue Aug 26 2014, 23:01:00

The current rulers of Jordan  Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman all attended The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, and many send heir sons there. The BBC offers a nice piece on the British connection: "Sandhurst's sheikhs: Why do so many Gulf royals receive military training in the UK?"

Former French colonies (plus Iran) have seemed to favor Saint-Cyr over Sandhurst.

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From MEI Editor's Blog Tue Aug 26 2014, 20:51:00

Here are a couple of useful reflections by others on those reports that Egypt and the UAE bombed Libya. A post at Foreign Policy argues that "Of Course the US Knew About Airstrikes on Libya."

And Juan Cole, who actually can remember the events of 2011, discusses "5 Ironies of US Reaction to Egypt/UAE Bombing of Libya."

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From MEI Editor's Blog Tue Aug 26 2014, 18:02:00

As a onetime specialist on the 'Abbasid Caliphate, I thought it might be worth noting that the Islamic State's self-proclaimed "Caliph Ibrahim" is not the first Caliph to make his seat at the town of Raqqa in eastern Syria. That precedent was set by one of the most famous 'Abbasids of all: Harun al-Rashid.

Although thanks to the 1,001 Nights tales, Harun is inexorably associated with the glories of Baghdad, the city founded by his grandfather al-Mansur, and he did indeed preside over the flourishing of the great city on the Tigris, he decided in AD 796, a decade into his reign, to move his Caliphal seat from Baghdad to Raqqa. The reasons are not entirely clear and may have been strategic, but he actually governed the Empire from Raqqa for the next 12 years, until his death in 809. It ...

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August 25 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Aug 25 2014, 21:42:00

The New York  Times has quoted "four senior American officials" as saying that Egypt and the UAE, despite strong public and official denials, were responsible for the bombing of targets in Tripoli last Monday and again yesterday. If verified, this may resolve one of the stranger mysteries of the past week, rather overshadowed by events in Iraq and Gaza.

Last Monday morning before dawn, at least two combat aircraft attacked targets in Tripoli in Libya, striking at areas controlled by Islamist militias. Libya's Air Force denied responsibility, and experts said he Libyan Air Force lacks night fighting capability and could not have launched the strikes. Libyan government officials blamed a "foreign" Air Force, and the US, Britain, France, Italy, and Egypt all disclaimed responsibility. One ...

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From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Aug 25 2014, 20:38:00

I'm back from vacation,nd while I hope that my vacation posts on historical subjects have kept you busy, a lot has been happening in the region and I'll be catching up as time permitd.

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