May 17, 2012

The Future of Middle Eastern Christians

The changes sweeping the Middle East could mean hope or despair for the region’s ‎Christian communities, depending on the attitude of each country’s rulers, write ‎Yoel Guzansky and Benedetta Berti in the National Interest.‎

Looking back at the past year’s transformation in the Middle East, there are reasons ‎to be concerned as well as signs of positive development. On the bright side, ‎democratization may indeed bring about increased pluralism, improving the visibility ‎and integration of the region’s sectarian and religious minorities. But in the shorter ‎term, the poststabilization phase may see growing intersocietal violence, placing the ‎region’s minorities at heightened risks. In this sense, the rise in violence against ‎Christian communities—whether in Egypt, Iraq or Syria—is worrisome for the entire ‎region. The slow, far-from-ideal pace of the postrevolutionary democratization ‎process and the rise of more radical Islamist groups, like the Salafists, are cause for ‎concern among the region’s Christians.‎

Mubarak’s repression machine is still alive and well

Writing in the Guardian, Hossam el-Hamalawy describes the undiminished power ‎of Egypt’s dreaded Interior Ministry, with its own private army. ‎

Make no mistake, Mubarak’s interior ministry is still alive and well. We dealt ‎some heavy blows to it on the Friday of Anger and the police were heroically ‎fought on several occasions, including the mini uprising in November 2011. ‎But still, the CSF, the SS (or what’s now calledHomeland Security) and most ‎of the repression machine is intact, and moreover is receiving the direct help ‎of the military police and the army’s intelligence services. ‎

Is U.S. going above and beyond for Israel?‎

Walter Pincus of the Washington Post takes issue with American funding for the ‎solely Israeli-owned Iron Dome missile defense shield. ‎

Iron Dome was developed and built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems ‎Ltd., an Israeli government-owned, profit-making company that, since ‎‎2004, has been headed by retired Vice Adm. Yedidia Yaari, the former ‎commander in chief of the Israel Navy. Rafael’s board chairman is retired ‎Maj. Gen. Ilan Biran, former general director of the Ministry of Defense. In ‎August, Rafael joined Raytheon Co. to market the Iron Dome system ‎worldwide. The two are already partners in one of the other anti-missile ‎systems that is being jointly run by Israel and the Pentagon.‎

Israel’s Image Revisted

Writing in Foreign Policy, Aaron David Miller responds to Ambassador Michael Oren’s ‎recent piece on Israel’s negative international image.

The notion that Israel’s unfavorable image is a result of some evil cabal that plots daily ‎against it infantilizes the Israelis and takes them out of history as real-world actors who ‎sometimes do well in pursuit of their interests and at other times screw up badly. Israel is ‎a remarkable state that has sought to preserve its moral and ethical soul in a cruel and ‎unforgiving world. But it is still only a nation of mortals trying to survive in that world.‎

Secret Hamas Elections Point to Internal Struggle

Hamas’ ongoing elections are seeing the rise of military leaders and the fall of ‎moderate members of the organization, writes Ehu Yaari for the Washington ‎Institute. ‎

Although Haniyeh once again proved to be the most popular Hamas leader in Gaza, he is quite ‎reluctant to claim overall leadership and often avoids controversy by letting more outspoken ‎colleagues speak their minds. Alami, now widely perceived as a potential future successor to Mashal, ‎better represents the most salient trend: the “Pasdaranization” of Hamas. Similar to the way the ‎Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (or Pasdaran) have managed to take over Iran’s state apparatus ‎over the past decade, the Hamas military wing is now assuming control over the movement’s political ‎course.‎


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