May 21, 2012

In pursuit of the president

The candidates for the Egyptian president reflect a cross-section of society, politics ‎and stages of modern history, writes Ahmed El-Tonsi in Al-Ahram Weekly.‎

The forthcoming presidential elections will witness a competition among three generations, as ‎well as between many candidates. The personalities of the latter and their popular images will be ‎major factors in determining the voting behaviour of the vast majority of Egyptians. Two ill-defined ‎forces will have a major impact on the selection of the next president: the youth forming more ‎than 60 percent of the voters and those voters casting protest ballots against the candidates of ‎Political Islam.‎

Tensions in Tripoli: The Syrian Crisis and its Impact on Lebanon

Syria’s ongoing violence is having a negative impact on already tense sectarian ‎divides in neighboring Lebanon, writes Benedetta Berti of the Institute for ‎National Security Studies. ‎

‎[T]he most severe byproduct of the Syrian crisis is the current rise of inter-sectarian ‎tensions. The recent violent confrontations inTripoli are a reflection of a largely ‎factionalized and polarized society, characterized by a growing Sunni-Shiite divide. ‎With the Sunni community largely backing the anti-Assad forces and the Shiites ‎standing behind Assad, the Syrian crisis has escalated the tones of already sour ‎political relations and the deep sectarian rift.‎

Will Turkey become our new-old best friend?‎

Paul Alster of the Times of Israel explores the reasons why Turkey’s abrasive prime ‎minister has stepped away from alliances with Tehran and Damascus and is taking ‎steps to mend fences with Israel. ‎

This easing of the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean is surely more down to ‎necessity on the part of the Turks than to a sea change in the attitude of their leader. ‎With the door to Europe slammed in its face, Syria and Iran remaining on the ‎international blacklist, no improvement in its relationship with Greece, and problems ‎on its eastern frontier with Syrian refugees and Kurdish separatists, Turkey is surely ‎keen to find friends in the region. Israel would be wise to make the most of the ‎opportunity, while, of course, exercising caution and only moving one step at a time.‎

Navigating the future of NATO

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Madeleine Albright offers praise for the NATO ‎alliance, and takes a look at its current and future challenges. ‎

Since its founding, NATO has been important not only for what it does, but for what it ‎represents. In the aftermath of Hitler and in opposition to Stalin and his successors, the ‎alliance was both the symbol and the substance of Western democratic resolve. ‎Although in hindsight, this period may be thought of in glowing terms, in fact the ‎members of the organization engaged in continuous debates about tactics, mission and ‎burden sharing. NATO today is not explicitly aligned against any country, but it does ‎remain the best prepared and most potent group opposed to terrorism, international ‎aggression, and mass violations of human rights. This does not mean that NATO will act ‎in every crisis, but its potential to do so when called upon is an indispensable and ‎unique international asset.‎

Now we’ll never know the truth ‎about Lockerbie

With the death of the Libyan jailed for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, Robert Fisk ‎of the Independent revisits long-held beliefs that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi did not ‎carry out the 1988 attack that killed 270 people. ‎

I’ve gone through these files and I long ago concluded that they were devastating. There was ‎a Lebanese connection – probably a Palestinian one, too. And there was a press conference ‎in Beirut held by Ahmed Jibril, head of the pro-Syrian Popular Front for the Liberation of ‎Palestine General Command in which Jibril (born Palestine 1938), suddenly blurted out – ‎without ever having been accused of the atrocity – the imperishable words: “I’m not ‎responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. They are trying to get me with a kangaroo court.” Of ‎course, there was no court, not then, just a bunch of pseudo-diplomats and journalists with ‎too many “intelligence connections”, who were fingering Syria for the Lockerbie crime.‎


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