Mideast news brief: France, UK agree to increase Libya military operations
France, UK agree to increase Libya military operations France and Britain have agreed to increase their military pressure on Muammar Qaddafi’s forces in Libya, following a meeting in Doha where world powers promised rebel forces aid. According to a source quoted in Al Jazeera, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed ...
France, UK agree to increase Libya military operations
France, UK agree to increase Libya military operations
France and Britain have agreed to increase their military pressure on Muammar Qaddafi’s forces in Libya, following a meeting in Doha where world powers promised rebel forces aid. According to a source quoted in Al Jazeera, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed that “all means must be available” to the rebels fighting Qaddafi. The pressure comes ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin today, where member countries will convene to work out their differences on the air campaign. The UK and France are expected to continue the pressure on other NATO countries to get involved with an aggressive role in the military operation against Qaddafi. Currently, only six out of 28 NATO countries — France, the UK, Canada, Belgium, Norway and Denmark — are conducting air strikes. PM Cameron says he will “leave no stone unturned, militarily, diplomatically, politically, to enforce the UN resolution, to put real pressure on Qaddafi and to stop the appalling murder of civilians that he is still carrying out as you’ve shown on our television screens in Misurata and elsewhere in Libya.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be attending the meeting in Berlin, and recently condemned the “continued brutal attacks on the Libyan people” by Qaddafi’s forces.
- Yemen opposition sets a deadline for President Saleh’s exit.
- Hundreds of Syrians near village of Baida block a roadway and demand the release of detainees.
- Egyptian prosecutor orders Mubarak and sons to be detained for 15 days.
- Gaza war report co-authors reject Goldstone’s retraction.
- U.S. officials say Iran is secretly helping Syria crack down against demonstrations.
- Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says UN report and talks in Brussels “recognize the reality” of a Palestinian state.
Saudi men attend the Janadriyah festival of Heritage and Culture operetta held on the outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh on April 13, 2011 in Riyadh (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images).
Arguments & Analysis
‘Asad’s lost chances’ (Carsten Wieland, MERIP)
“No one knows how the street unrest in Syria will end, and not only because information about the demonstrations and clashes is so scarce. The focal points of unrest in mid-April, the southern agricultural town of Dar’a and the Mediterranean port of Banyas, are no-go zones for journalists, with all forms of communication with Banyas reportedly cut. Reporting from anywhere in Syria has been scanty throughout the crisis. An additional question is to what degree Syrian cities and villages have been gripped by fears of sectarian incidents, score settling among groups with vested interests or heightened criminal activity — all specters raised by the regime — as the protests escalate. Yet the outlines of a minimum outcome have already emerged: Power relations will be renegotiated. Inside the regime, key posts have been reshuffled amidst rumors of open discord between Bashar al-Asad and the security services, between Asad and the army, between Bashar and other members of the Asad clan and, possibly, between ‘Alawis, Sunnis and members of other sects in the upper echelons. The regime has less leeway in its social, economic and political decisions going forward; it will have to frame them more cautiously, with more urgent attention to good governance and less reliance on repression, lest the next round of protest be far more vigorous than that of 2011. But the current round is far from over, in any case, and its maximum outcome is regime change. For years, Asad has quelled demands for fundamental change with piecemeal, sometimes cosmetic reforms. Some strata of the public have considered him part of the solution; the danger is that he will lose these people and become part of the problem.”
‘Three wise men’ (David Ignatius, Washington Post)
The author profiles three of the most important players in a post-Mubarak Egypt: Mohamed ElBaradei, Amr Moussa, and Naguib Sawiris. Bottom line: “The three spoke frankly in interviews last week and, despite their different backgrounds, they expressed common concerns: All worry that the ruling military council is moving too fast toward parliamentary elections and a new constitution; they warn about rising Muslim-Christian religious tensions; they see a deterioration in security on the streets and want to rebuild the police; and they fear that a sharp economic downturn is ahead.Their views converge on policy issues, too, which suggests that a moderate post-revolutionary consensus is emerging. They all favor a market economy, but one that protects and subsidizes Egypt’s poorest citizens; they support continued ties with America, including cooperation between the U.S. and Egyptian militaries; and they want a secular government that protects individual rights. Simply put, they all want Egypt to join the 21st century as a modern, prosperous democratic state.”
‘While the Saudi elite looks nervously abroad, a revolution is happening’ (Soumaya Ghannoushi, The Guardian)
“Along with the visible political threats facing the regime, it is beset by a more potent social challenge. This is the product of the advancing process of modernisation in Saudi society, with growing urbanisation, mass education, tens of thousands of foreign-taught students, and widespread communication media, with one of the region’s highest percentages of internet users (almost 40%, double that of Egypt). The country’s gigantic oil wealth has taken the society from a simple, predominantly desert existence to a model of affluent consumerism in the space of a few decades. Yet this rapid transformation has not been matched at the culture level, causing a yawning gap between social reality and a conservative ideology imposed by the regime and justified via an intimate alliance between the ruling clan and the Wahhabi clerical establishment with its austere Hanbali interpretation of Islam. This is not to say that the clerical council and its religious police are the decision-makers in Saudi Arabia. They are mere government employees who provide a divine seal for choices made by the king and his coterie of emirs.”
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