The political tensions and a handful of local clashes following the assassination last Friday of Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau head Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan reflected a tragic but rather routine sequence of sentiments and events in this country, where political assassinations have occurred regularly for half a century.
Reformist judges may be finding themselves better equipped to fight with yesteryear’s Mubarak than with this year’s more complicated rivals, and the struggles over the coming years are likely to feature a different set of issues—or perhaps, more accurately, unexpected iterations of the older concerns over autonomy and authority.
By 2020 the population of the tiny Gaza Strip will grow by half a million people: 500,000 more to be fed, housed, educated, and employed. Let us address the root causes of this looming disaster rather than expecting the international community to foot the bill to mitigate their disastrous consequences.
There is a new Silk Road quietly emerging that connects the booming economies of East Asia with the oil-rich Gulf states of the Arab Peninsula and, through them, European markets accessible just across the Suez canal.
In response to pointed criticism from the United Nations Human Rights Council, representatives of the Bahraini government claimed they would accept and implement over 150 of the council’s recommendations for the improvement of human rights and the treatment of prisoners. Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa remarked that “Our actions, more than our words, should dispel any doubts regarding [Bahrain’s] commitment to upholding human rights through the rule of law.” Despite this, there are real reasons to be skeptical that Manama is ready to turn the page. » Read more about: Bahrain: Human Rights and Political Wrongs »
Even as the goodwill won by Obama’s Cairo University speech has dissipated, the level of engagement pursued early in his term suggested a reevaluation of how America does business in the Middle East. Morsi deserves his own chance to win America’s goodwill, and he’ll have that very opportunity at the UN General Assembly.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has governed Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak—and apparently wants to hold on indefinitely—can’t justify itself on its record. Especially when it comes to human rights. SCAF presented itself as the shepherd of Egypt’s transition to democracy. Instead, SCAF trampled rights of Egyptians across the board, repressing speech and public gatherings and preserving an unfair justice system. In some areas, SCAF has outdone Mubarak.
Road accidents are common everywhere, but what is striking in Egypt is how little the government seems to care, despite the high human and economic costs to society. An estimated 12,000 die and another 154,000 are injured in crashes each year, making Egypt’s roads among the most dangerous in the world. Accidents also cost Egypt as much as 30 billion L.E. ($5 billion) a year, according to some sources. Government neglect in road safety is yet another part of the legacy of misrule and unaccountability following decades of dictatorship.
This is an open mic night—the ninth of its kind—in Minya, a city on the Nile some two hundred kilometers south of Cairo. The performances range from the comic and the poignant to the explicitly political, but all have the same purpose in mind: to reclaim Egypt’s public space after the fall of the dictator. “When someone decides to speak their mind in public, even to tell a joke,” explains organizer Shady Khalil as he watches from the sidelines, “that’s political participation.”
I was in the United States 16 months ago when an Egyptian national popular uprising forced Hosni Mubarak to quit his presidency, and I was in the United States again this week when Mohammed Morsi was elected as the new Egyptian president. Then and now, Americans remain unsure about how to react to the popular revolutions that felled their long-time autocratic Arab allies, who in most cases were replaced by more legitimate, Islamist-led governments.