Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts

27 November 2022

William Hartung, A Hall of Shame of U.S. Weapons Sales


As retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and historian William Astore wrote recently at his Bracing Views blog, while the Republicans didn’t experience their expected “red tide” on November 8th, Donald Trump had a genuinely dismal night, and the Democrats lost (even if barely) control of the House of Representatives, there was still a clear election winner. It just wasn’t any of the crew being covered in the media. It was the military-industrial complex. In fact, you can always count on one thing: whatever congressional Democrats and Republicans won’t agree on in the next two years — and that, by definition, will be more or less everything else — they will agree on upping the Pentagon budget, which, even before this election, was projected to hit a trillion dollars by 2027 or so.

You can certainly ask what such sums — nearing $900 billion annually ($1.4 trillion, if you’re talking about the full national security state budget) — buy us. The answer has been disastrous, unwinnable wars that, in this century, have left parts of the planet in ever greater chaos. And however under the radar such conflicts have gone in 2022, some of them are indeed still underway in Africa and parts of the Middle East, even if ever more by proxy.

21 November 2022

Egyptians: We Do Not Want the Islamists to Return to Power

Khaled Abu Toameh

Is the banned Muslim Brotherhood organization trying to return to power in Egypt?

Many Egyptians believe that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind calls to Egyptians to hold nationwide protests during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), which is now in progress at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh. The Islamists, they say, justified their call by arguing that the planned demonstrations were designed to protest human rights violations and bad economic conditions in Egypt.

Fortunately for the majority of the Egyptians, only a few people heeded the Muslim Brotherhood supporters' call to take to the streets on November 11. The Islamists, in other words, failed in their latest attempt to instigate unrest and violence in Egypt with the hope of returning to power.

The Muslim Brotherhood regime of former President Mohammed Morsi ended in 2013, when the Egyptian army stepped in to prevent the country from being engulfed in anarchy.

20 November 2022

The “International Community” Is an Ineffectual Fantasy

Rajan Menon

Washington’s vaunted “rules-based international order” has undergone a stress test following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and here’s the news so far: It hasn’t held up well. In fact, the disparate reactions to Vladimir Putin’s war have only highlighted stark global divisions, which reflect the unequal distribution of wealth and power. Such divisions have made it even harder for a multitude of sovereign states to find the minimal common ground needed to tackle the biggest global problems, especially climate change.

In fact, it’s now reasonable to ask whether an international community connected by a consensus of norms and rules, and capable of acting in concert against the direst threats to humankind, exists. Sadly, if the responses to the war in Ukraine are the standard by which we’re judging, things don’t look good.

THE MYTH OF UNIVERSALITY

After Russia invaded, the United States and its allies rushed to punish it with a barrage of economic sanctions. They also sought to mobilize a global outcry by charging Putin with trashing what President Biden’s top foreign policy officials like to call the rules-based international order. Their effort has, at best, had minimal success.

17 November 2022

Can the Ukraine war now end only with Russia’s defeat?

Lawrence Freedman

Russia’s recent military setbacks have led to hopes that the war might be over sooner rather than later, bringing an end to both the continuing death and destruction and the global economic disruption it has caused. What had appeared to be a rather slow-moving confrontation is now more dynamic. In one key respect Ukraine’s successful offensive, in which Kyiv has recaptured thousands of square kilometres of eastern territory in a matter of days, has brought peace a little closer. The only conditions for a stable peace involve Russia withdrawing its forces from Ukraine. The prospect of further battlefield humiliations should encourage the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to seek a dignified exit.

Whether he will is another matter. It was clear what Putin wanted when he started this war: a compliant regime in Kyiv that would accept Ukraine’s subjugation. Once the February invasion faltered he could not achieve this. There were negotiations in March, which fizzled out completely in April, that addressed the issue of Ukrainian neutrality. On that, the talks seemed to make some progress, but they did not sort out what neutrality would mean in practice, especially in the light of Russia’s demand for Ukraine’s demilitarisation. Nor did they fully address the territorial issues.

4 November 2022

The Most Vulnerable Place on the Internet


THE ASIA-AFRICA-EUROPE-1 INTERNET cable travels 15,500 miles along the seafloor, connecting Hong Kong to Marseille, France. As it snakes through the South China Sea and toward Europe, the cable helps provide internet connections to more than a dozen countries, from India to Greece. When the cable was cut on June 7, millions of people were plunged offline and faced temporary internet blackouts.

The cable, also known as AAE-1, was severed where it briefly passes across land through Egypt. One other cable was also damaged in the incident, with the cause of the damage unknown. However, the impact was immediate. “It affected about seven countries and a number of over-the-top services,” says Rosalind Thomas, the managing director of SAEx International Management, which plans to create a new undersea cable connecting Africa, Asia, and the US. “The worst was Ethiopia, that lost 90 percent of its connectivity, and Somalia thereafter also 85 percent.” Cloud services belonging to Google, Amazon, and Microsoft were all also disrupted, subsequent analysis revealed.

While connectivity was restored in a few hours, the disruption highlights the fragility of the world’s 550-plus subsea internet cables, plus the outsized role Egypt and the nearby Red Sea have in the internet’s infrastructure. The global network of underwater cables forms a large part of the internet’s backbone, carrying the majority of data around the world and eventually linking up to the networks that power cell towers and Wi-Fi connections. Subsea cables connect New York to London and Australia to Los Angeles.

29 October 2022

Retired general’s pro-Saudi op-eds didn’t disclose financial incentives

Eli Clifton

Over four years, Ret. Air Force General Charles “Chuck” Wald published a series of op-eds with Reuters, NBC News, The Hill, and Newsweek in which he promoted weapons sales, U.S. security guarantees, and closer military cooperation with Saudi Arabia while simultaneously working as a security consultant for the kingdom’s defense ministry.

Readers were kept in the dark about this potential conflict of interest.

Over 500 retired U.S. military personnel, many of them, like Wald, high-ranking officers, were approved by the State Department to conduct work for foreign governments, according to recently released records obtained as a result of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits by The Washington Post and the Project on Government Oversight, or POGO.

Saudi Arabia, the focus of the Post’s reporting on 15 retired U.S. generals and admirals working as contractors for the kingdom’s defense ministry since 2016, reveals a stark example of how mainstream media outlets provide a platform for foreign policy hawks without disclosing their potential conflicts of interest when publishing op-eds whose arguments appear to benefit their foreign clients.

Can Sunak Save Britain? Political Chaos and the Long Shadow of Brexit

Bronwen Maddox

Yesterday, when Rishi Sunak stood in front of the portable lectern outside No. 10 Downing Street to make his first statement as prime minister, it marked a watershed in many ways. At 42, he is the youngest prime minister in modern British history; he is also the first person of color to hold the post, and the first Hindu. But the significance goes beyond these symbolic attributes: he represents a possible return to stable government after 44 days of unrelenting crisis under his predecessor, Liz Truss, and after six years of political drama.

Truss is an unusual political character: she lacks charisma or force of persuasion and yet still identifies as a disruptor. Ultimately, however, all she disrupted was her own premiership, causing a catastrophe for the Tories. The Conservative Party is one of the world’s most successful political organizations, but it is now in danger of not just losing power in the next general election but fracturing beyond repair. The task of rescuing both his country and his party now falls to Sunak.

23 October 2022

Obama’s Apology is Too Little Too Late

Todd Carney

As President, Barack Obama was good at apologizing…for America. But Obama would rarely own up to his mistakes. Recently, Obama admitted fault, for once, concerning his administration’s response to a pro-democracy movement in Iran early in his presidency. In a soft-ball interview with his former staffers on the “Pod Save America” podcast Obama claimed that he and his staff had debated whether to do more to support Iran’s pro-democracy movement. Obama went on to say that the administration ultimately did not back the movement further because they did not want the demonstrators to seem like “tools of the West”. Obama concluded by saying he considers his response a mistake. This self-reflection has won Obama praise. However, Obama’s apology is meaningless because it comes a decade late and does nothing to undo the damage his initial response caused.

The Middle East was an early focus of Obama’s administration. Obama gave a famous speech in Egypt about America’s relationship with the Muslim world. At the time, the speech received a lot of praise. Many hoped that it could lead to pro-democracy movements in the region, without the US needing to invade.

A little over a week later, there was a democratic uprising in Iran in response to claims that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had rigged the nation’s presidential election to win another term. Ahmadinejad responded to the protests with violence and arrests, the same kind of human rights abuses that Iran is committing today. It is possible that some of the demonstrators protested because they were inspired by Obama’s speech.

5 October 2022

The Real Reason the Middle East Hates NGOs

Steven A. Cook

In the summer of 2011, a group of Egyptian military officers made their first trip to Washington after President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. In public and private meetings at various venues around town, including the Egyptian Defense Office and the U.S. Institute of Peace, the delegation emphasized that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which had assumed executive power, was “preparing the country for democracy.”

It wasn’t true, and the tipoff was the way the delegation responded to questions concerning the onerous restrictions on nongovernmental organizations, especially those that sought foreign funding to pursue their work. Out went the friendly and constructive air of the “new Egypt” in favor of the unmovable “old Egypt.” And when pressed, the head of the officers’ delegation became red-faced with anger. Apparently, laying the groundwork for more open and just politics did not include human rights organizations, good-governance groups, environmentalists, private associations that provide aid to people in need, or other NGOs.

14 September 2022

The British Empire Was Much Worse Than You Realize


Just after the First World War, an island smaller than Kansas controlled roughly a quarter of the world’s population and landmass at the height of the British Empire. Each conquest was a moral achievement to the architects of this colossus, the largest empire in history. Imperial tutelage, often imparted through the barrel of an Enfield, was delivering benighted peoples from the errors of their ways—child marriage, widow immolation, headhunting. Among the edifiers was a Devonshire-born rector’s son named Henry Hugh Tudor. As he was known to Winston Churchill and his other chums, Hughie pops up so reliably in colonial outposts with outsized body counts that his story can seem a “Where’s Waldo?” of empire.

He’s Churchill’s garrison-mate in Bangalore in 1895—a time of “messes and barbarism,” the future Prime Minister complained in a note to his mum. As the century turns, Tudor is battling Boers on the veldt; then it’s back to India, and on to occupied Egypt. Following a decorated stint as a smoke-screen artist in the trenches of the First World War, he’s in command of a gendarmerie, nicknamed Tudor’s Toughs, that opens fire in a Dublin stadium in 1920—an assault during a search for I.R.A. assassins which leaves dozens of civilians dead or wounded. Prime Minister David Lloyd George delights in rumors that Tudor’s Toughs were killing two Sinn Féinners for every murdered loyalist. Later, even the military’s chief of staff marvelled at how nonchalantly the men spoke of those killings, tallying them up as though they were runs in a cricket match; Tudor and his “scallywags” were out of control. It didn’t matter: Churchill, soon to be Secretary of State for the Colonies, had Tudor’s back.

13 September 2022

The PLA’s Military Diplomacy in Advance of the 20th Party Congress

Kenneth Allen

Introduction

As the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Chinese Communist Party (CCP) approaches its 20th Party Congress, which begins on October 16, General Secretary Xi Jinping is set to continue his run as core leader (People’s Daily, August 31). Throughout his tenure, Xi, who is also Chairman of the Party and State Central Military Commission (CMC) and PRC President, has prioritized military diplomacy as a key element of Chinese foreign policy. Consequently, since 2013, China's military diplomacy's frequency, intensity and scale has generally increased. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or limited some areas of engagement, under Xi, the overall trend of military diplomacy assuming a growing role in China’s international engagement is bound to persist.

This two-part article series provides updated information concerning the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) military diplomacy since the China Brief’ article “The PLA’s Military Diplomacy Under COVID-19” was published last June (China Brief, June 21, 2021). [1] This article examines potential forthcoming changes to PLA Leadership and their implications for the PRC’s military diplomacy; provides a general overview of key developments in Chinese military diplomacy since 2021; and catalogues senior-level visits abroad and hosted visits. The forthcoming second article in this series, examines specific areas of military diplomacy: bilateral and multilateral Joint Military Exercises, non-traditional Security Operations, and international Academic Exchanges and Cooperation. It also examines how military diplomacy is playing out in two regions: Africa and Latin America. [2]

9 August 2022

Interview – David Lowe


Dr David Lowe is a senior research fellow at Leeds Law School, part of Leeds Beckett University, where he researches terrorism and security, policing, and human rights. Prior to being an academic, David served as a police officer in the UK where he carried out a number of uniform and CID roles. After retiring from the police, he began his academic career. His research has been widely published in books and journal articles. His latest book, Terrorism, Law and Policy: A Comparative Study, was published by Routledge in 2022. Due to his expertise David is constantly requested by the mainstream media to provide interviews on his research area, including the UK BBC television and radio and Sky News, and internationally CNN, France 24, ABC (Australia), TRT (Turkey), Al Jazeera, Al Arabyia (UAE) and AlGhad (Egypt).

David is an Expert Panel member of the UN’s UNESCO Chair on the prevention of radicalisation and extremism, an External Member of UK Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood where his input is in relation to the UK’s Prevent Strategy and how extremism impacts on children and young people. David is also a member of the UK’s Counter Terrorism Advisory Network and a member of the Academic Resilience and Security Community (Academic RiSC). Among his current projects, he is working with the Northern Ireland Assembly to introduce a bespoke version of the Prevent programme and on the Hate Crime Bill. He has recently started working with a German NGO, GIZ, that works with the African Union regarding the implementation of police co-operation in intelligence sharing and a bespoke version of a Prevent programme to minimise the impact extremist have on various African states’ populations.

5 August 2022

‘Debt bomb’ risks: More than 40 nations are at risk of default

Nikhil Kumar and Lili Pike

Sri Lanka might be only the beginning. The South Asian country, once an economic darling hailed as a “hidden jewel,” has been sucked into a financial black hole this year as an unsustainable pile of debt crushed sector after sector. The debt crisis has triggered widespread unrest and political upheaval.

But the small island nation isn’t alone, experts warn, as a range of countries worldwide — from Tunisia to Egypt, Kenya to Argentina, and beyond — groan under their own giant piles of debt.

Put aside the economic jargon, and the story is a straightforward one. As global prices and interest rates rise, putting pressure on the finances of these countries, they are struggling to pay the interest they owe on all the loans that they have taken out in recent years. That in turn is affecting their ability to keep their economies running — to feed their people, to provide fuel — even as they try to get things back on an even keel after the blows of the covid-19 pandemic.

Ayman al-Zawahiri and the Taliban


During his long career as a polemicist and a strategist of terror, Ayman al-Zawahiri often taunted the United States. He hewed to the familiar theme that America was an apostate power at war with Islam. But he also described it as a spent force. In a video released this spring, he said that “U.S. weakness” was responsible for the war triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and he mocked the country’s standing “after its defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan, after the economic disasters caused by the 9/11 invasions, after the coronavirus pandemic, and after it left its ally Ukraine as prey for the Russians.”

The U.S. drone strike in Kabul last Saturday that killed Zawahiri, who was seventy-one, added a punctuation mark to the long search for justice for the victims of 9/11 and of other deadly attacks that Zawahiri directly approved, such as the bombing of two U.S. Embassies in Africa in 1998, which killed twelve Americans and more than two hundred Africans. President Joe Biden, announcing the attack on Monday evening, said that he hoped Zawahiri’s death “provides a small measure of peace to the 9/11 families and everyone else who has suffered at the hands of Al Qaeda.”

15 July 2022

Don’t Sleep on China’s Global Develop­ment Initiative

Fikayo Akeredolu

It’s been a hectic few weeks in international relations and development policy circles, with significant implications for Asian and Pacific countries.

First was the BRICS Business Forum on June 23, attended by the top leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Then came the High-Level Dialogue on Global Development on June 24, attended by leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, and a selection of non-BRICS countries: Cambodia, Argentina, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Senegal, Thailand, and Uzbekistan. Two days later, leaders from seven of the world’s wealthiest countries (the G-7) met from June 26 to 28.

While there was much to discuss internally within these groups, a general thread from each meeting was international development, especially as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and now the fall out of the Russia-Ukraine war.

14 July 2022

The Impact and Implications of China’s Growing Influence in the Middle East

Nadeem Ahmed Moonakal

Amid evolving regional geopolitical tensions and changing security dynamics in the Middle East, Beijing is accentuating its efforts to expand economic relations with regional powers and forge comprehensive strategic partnerships with the Arab world. To date, China has cautiously walked a tightrope in the region to balance between regional rivals. However, its growing presence in the region likely will pull Beijing into wider engagement eventually, especially as the emerging regional security arrangement paves way for newer challenges that would increase the role of regional powers amid U.S. withdrawal.

Beijing’s foreign policy of balancing between rivals and increasing multilateralism has enabled China to deepen its ties with the Middle East. While engaging with the region, China has focused on shared interests, which are largely economic, and has emphasized South-South cooperation. Beijing has maintained a position far from the immediate vulnerabilities of protracted conflicts, but now new challenges are expected as the security arrangement and balance of power in the region will likely change depending on several factors, especially the future of nuclear talks with Iran.

11 July 2022

America’s New Realism in the Middle East

F. Gregory Gause 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcoming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia has unleashed a gusher of chatter in the American foreign policy community. Some reactions, including from influential Democratic politicians, have been unreservedly negative. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff said, “Until Saudi Arabia makes a radical change in terms of human rights, I wouldn’t want anything to do with him,” referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS. But defenders of Biden’s decision to visit argue that U.S. interests and the realities of power in the Middle East require a strategic relationship with the Saudis, despite their poor record on human rights and democracy.

This level of disagreement and controversy is striking and unusual because American presidents have been meeting with Saudi leaders regularly since the 1970s—and on occasion before that. But the Biden administration had signaled, in no uncertain terms, that it would treat Saudi Arabia differently than did previous administrations. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden said he would make the Saudis “pay the price” for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 and the Saudi participation in the war in Yemen and would treat them as “the pariah that they are.” Once in office, Biden authorized the release of a U.S. intelligence report holding that MBS was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi operatives in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Biden refused to deal directly with the crown prince and took policy steps that aggravated the Saudis, including lifting the official designation of the Houthis (the Saudis’ opponents in Yemen) as terrorists, removing U.S. air defense batteries from Saudi Arabia, and restarting nuclear talks with Iran. So the upcoming visit to Riyadh represents a reversal—and a climb-down for a president who is facing an increasing number of political problems at home.

10 July 2022

Iron net: Digital repression in the Middle East and North Africa

James Lynch

Introduction

In April 2021, Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan security guard living in Doha, opened his Twitter account to find that someone had sent him a link to a Human Rights Watch report about migrant workers. Bidali was using an anonymous account, @noaharticulates, to blog about his life and document the daily exploitation and abuse that he and his fellow workers experienced. His account, which only had a few hundred followers, had just begun to attract interest both from foreign readers and young Qataris who appreciated his frank, unflinching account of the reality he and his colleagues confronted every day.

The link did not work. But it was never meant to: it was a phishing link designed to reveal the true identity of @noaharticulates. A week later, Bidali was arrested at his labour camp by State Security officers. After a month in solitary confinement and a campaign for his release by students in Qatar, he was deported to Kenya with a hefty fine for publishing “false news with the intent of endangering the public system of the state”. And there ended the career of Qatar’s first – and, so far, only – migrant worker blogger. A year before the 2022 Men’s Football World Cup, the build-up to which had been characterised by international concern about the abuse of migrant workers, the Qatari state had used a relatively simple technical measure to snuff out a perceived threat.

29 June 2022

The Abraham Accords And The Changing Shape Of The Middle East

Dennis Ross

One question I often get is how are the Abraham Accords changing the Middle East? It is a fair and logical question, but there is a more important one to ask: how did the region change so the Abraham Accords became possible? And, what does that change tell us about where the region is headed?

The change did not happen overnight. There are many critics of the Oslo process between Israel and the PLO, but Oslo began to change the context for the Sunni Arab states. If the PLO, the embodiment of the Palestinian national movement could deal with Israel, it became more acceptable for them to do so as well. True, the Madrid process initiated multilateral working groups a year earlier in 1992, and many Arab states took part in meetings that included Israelis in regional discussions on issues ranging from arms control to environment and water. That surely helped, but Oslo provided an impetus to start quiet exploratory discussions on bilateral, not multilateral, cooperation between Israel and a number of Arab states. As our lead negotiator on the Oslo and Arab-Israeli processes, I set up a number of discreet meetings between Israeli officials and their Gulf state counterparts in the 1990’s. Most of the bilateral meetings involved security cooperation and built on intelligence contacts that Mossad had established over time, but the scope of these private discussions clearly expanded.

28 June 2022

Ottoman's New Wings, Short-Takeoffs, and more

Rohan Khattar Singh

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has put a spotlight on Turkey’s aviation industry when combat footage from Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 drone striking Russian armour and artillery equipment went viral. However, recent interviews of Ukrainian pilots have shown that with an established Russian Air-Defence, the Bayraktar TB2 drone has become easy pickings. The drone which was first inducted in 2004 has now clocked 400,000 hours globally with more than 300 airframes being operated by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Morocco, Niger, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. The TB2 has been effectively used across multiple conflicts in Libya, Syria, the Nagorno-Karabakh war, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, and is likely to be extensively used in future conflicts which require limited air power involvement, or in scenarios where the other side lacks a robust Air Defence network.

TAI Hurjet at Teknofest 2021

Turkey is also rapidly developing its fixed-wing fleet in order to replenish its ageing fleet of more than 200 F-16s, and with the uncertainty of the delivery of F-35s, Turkey has to rely on its indigenous production to secure its national interests. Apart from its ongoing work on the TF-X stealth fighter, Turkey is also producing the TAI Hurjet, a Light Combat aircraft which has created much intrigue amongst South East Asian Countries, particularly Malaysia, which is considering the HAL Tejas to fulfil its urgency for a smaller fighter aircraft.