Blog entries from: MEI Editor's Blog

A Blog by the Editor of the Middle East Journal

1 to 10 of 408

October 30 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Oct 30 2014, 20:10:00

It all started with Sweden's recent decision to recognize the State of Palestine.

That inspired Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman to comment:

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From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Oct 30 2014, 16:06:00

The overall outcome of the Tunisian Parliamentary election has been quite clear since Monday, but the slowness of the official count meant that the official (semi-) final numbers were only released early this morning.

Beji Caid Essebsi's Nidaa Tounes Party, representing secularists, the old guard Establishment, the UGTT labor union, etc. holds the largest bloc with 85 seats and 39.17% of the vote.; the Islamist Ennahda, which held the largest bloc in the former Parliament/Constitutional Assembly, won 69 seats with 31.79% of the vote. The remainder of the 217 seats are distributed follows: Free Patriotic Union, 16 seats; Popular Front, 15 seats; Afek Tounes. 8 seats; the remaining seats are scattered among eight smaller parties (including two seats for the party known as "Current of Love") ...

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October 29 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Wed Oct 29 2014, 19:21:00

Since last summer I have been noting each of the dates marking the centennial of events that brought the Ottoman Empire into the Great War on the side of Germany and Austria a century ago. Divisions in the Ottoman Cabinet, despite the signing of a secret alliance in August, kept the Turks from fully committing to war. The Ottoman War Minister, Enver Pasha, was enthusiastic enough, but others were dragging their feet. Germany was increasingly exasperated with its putative ally's excuses. On this day a century ago, without Cabinet approval, including that of Minister of Marine Djemal Pasha, the Commander of the Turkish Navy simply started the war on his own.

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October 28 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Tue Oct 28 2014, 23:30:00

Last weekend's terror attack in Sinai, leaving some 30 Egyptian soldiers dead, is being met bu a forceful and in some ways draconian response by the government, limited neither to the perpetrators nor to Sinai. The new measures include  a three-month State of Emergency, expanding the military's powers by declaring state facilities such as power plants, bridges etc. as military infrastructure, banning Hamas, ending Egypt's mediation efforts eith Hamas, closing the Rafah crossing into Gaza and evacuating inhabitants from parts of North Sinai, etc.

The terror threat in Sinai is a real one; radical jihadist groups have been active since the 2011 Revolution. charging "foreign" elements are supporting the Jihadis, and some analysts believe the Sinai Jihadis may now be identifying with ISIS. ...

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From MEI Editor's Blog Tue Oct 28 2014, 08:53:00

In part I of this post yesterday, I set the general strategic and political stage on which the British and Ottoman Empires played out an increasing confrontation in the Gulf in the weeks leading up to Turkey's formal entry into the Great War a century ago. In this post, I hope to detail those events. (I'm drawing on multiple sources, official and secondary.)

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October 27 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Oct 27 2014, 12:20:00

With nearly complete results in, Tunisia appears to have held a largely smooth, genuinely competitive election that is electing a new Parliament in which the plurality of seats will shift from Islamist to seularist, but with the other bloc still heavily represented.

With 214 of 217 seats decided,  (link in Arabic), the secularist Nidaa Tounes will hold 83 seats, while the Islamist Ennahda (al_Nahda) will hold 68. The remaining seats are scattered among a range of smaller parties, so coalition-building will be necessary.. Ennahda has conceded.

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From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Oct 27 2014, 08:53:00

Throughout September and October, 1914, Britain and the Ottoman Empire were both preparing of Ottoman entry into the Great War. Despite having signed a Treaty of Alliance with Germany secretly at the beginning of August, Turkey's divided cabinet had continued to delay, and despite the arrival of the Goeben and Breslau at Constantinople in August and Turkey's closing of the Straits to the Entente powers in September, Turkey was still officially neutral and Britain and Russia were treading softly to avoid pushing it over the edge.

A century ago today, on October 27, German (though now officially Ottoman) Admiral Souchon took his flagship the Yavuz Sultan Selim (still called Goeben by her Fez-wearing German crew) and a small force quietly out of Constantinople and into the Black Sea. Two days ...

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From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Oct 27 2014, 08:32:00

The inimitable Anglo-Egyptian journalist Sarah Carr has given us a superb little essay on the Revolution that appears to have failed.: "Still falling off that cliff." It deserves to be read in full, but  few excerpts will convince you, beginning with a paragraph that is brilliant writing:

The inevitable, painful, question is whether it was worth it, whether those lives shattered and destroyed have laid the groundwork for something or are just gone. This isn't a question we (people who lived through it and supported it) can answer - not only because we perhaps don't (yet) know but because of the impossibility of answering objectively. Wishing for a world where it never happened would re-animate the dead, return sight to lost eyes, unbreak shattered bones. It would free thousands ...

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October 25 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Sat Oct 25 2014, 00:31:00

On Sunday, Tunisia will go to the pollsto elect its second legislative body since the Revolution and its first inder the new constitution.That alone deserves attention. Though technically, Libya has already held two Parliamentary elections since Arab Spring, the second resulted in two governments,  one of which is on a ship in Tobruk. This election ,ay be imperfect, but it offers hope,

The Al-Nahda (Ennahda) Islamist party held a plurality in the previous government but yielded power for new elections. As was not the case in 2011, the secularist sides that have dominated much of Tunisia's post-independence history are better organized to compete with Ennahda, which has lost some support to more radical groups (and Tunisia is reportedly the largest dource of foreign fighters to ISIS). ...

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October 24 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Fri Oct 24 2014, 20:57:00

This report notes the US is moving ahead with the idea of creating a new Syrian resistance movement from the ground up to fight ISIS. This has been discussed for  couple of weeks now, and the decisioin seems to have been to address the problem of a fragmented, factionalized opposition by creating yet another faction. We're being warned it will take 18 months or more.

Meanwhile, in case no one noticed, just as we were stepping up air strikes in Syria, so was the Asad regime, reportedly striking 210 targets in just 36 hours, suggesting a sortie rate many would have thought the Syrian Air Force incapable of achieving. That probably includes barrel-bombs dropped from helicopters. But of course, many of the targets are Free Syrian Army targets, not ISIS, and it may be that while the world ...

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