Christians in the Middle East
- The BBC: Syria war fuels Christian flight from Middle East (Kevin Connolly, December 16)
"At moments of crisis in the Middle East, Christians have tended to pack and leave to build safer and more peaceful lives for themselves elsewhere - think of Palestine in 1948 or Iraq in our own turbulent times."
Obama & the Middle East
- The Economist: The masochism tango (December 15)
"In his first term Mr Obama tried staying out of the region and then involved himself. Neither approach worked. This time round he is still pondering his choice. “There is no such thing as benign neglect when it comes to the Middle East,” says Robert Danin, formerly of the State Department."
- Reuters: Egypt faces divisive choice over political future (Yasmine Saleh and Giles Elgood, December 14)
- Al Monitor: Referendum Will Divide, Not Unite, Egyptians (Maggie Fick, December 14)
- BBC: Egypt crisis: Morsi's hometown split by constitution row (Lyse Doucet, December 14)
"Voting begins in a referendum on a divisive draft basic law that has pitted Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Mursi against a liberal, secular and Christian opposition in often bloody clashes in Cairo and other cities."
"In the three weeks since President Mohammed Morsi issued a decree dramatically increasing his powers, possible windows for compromise have opened at various moments. On the eve of the vote, all these windows are slammed shut."
"An animated conversation, with a constitution passing from hand to hand, quickly turns into a magnet for passers-by. The crowd swells with dozens of people jostling to share their views - loudly and passionately."
- Al Monitor: Presidential race begins in Iran (Shahir Shahidsaless, December 11)
"Although Iran’s presidential elections are still more than six months away, analysts are already predicting the likely candidates. Most believe that the Guardian Council, which vets candidates for elected office, will bar anyone who appears to have any propensity to challenge Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s authority."
- TelQuel: How dangerous are Morocco's Salafists? (Mohammed Boudarham, December 10 - translated by Al-Monitor)
"Giving Sharia its true place in society," "warning against secularism and man-made laws" and "working to restore the Caliphate” are just a few points in the manifesto issued in early September by a new group calling itself Ansar al-Sharia in Morocco."
- Foreign Policy: The Land of Topless Minarets and Headless Little Girls (Amal Hananno, December 11)
- The National: As rebels make inroads, their 'Friends of Syria' are nervous (Tony Karon, December 12)
- Foreign Policy: Don't Blame Obama for Syria (Aaron David Miller, December 12)
"The people of Aleppo have been divided about the revolution since its birth. Unlike other cities like Daraa, Homs, and Hama, they did not join it willingly. Some resent the armed opposition fighters who they claim entered the city unprepared to fight the regime. They blame the destruction and devastation of Aleppo on the opposition fighters and conveniently forget the violence the Assad regime inflicted on their city for over four decades."
"..the regime's security core may see its best hopes for survival in the "Lebanonisation" of Syria - a scenario, already under way, in which the central state effectively collapses, and power is carved up among local and regional sectarian militias defending their own turf in a long-term war of all against all."
"There were never any good or easy options in Syria. All involved risk, and there was no guarantee any U.S. moves would stop what became a civil war -- or even ameliorate the situation. What's more, they all held the very real prospect of a slippery slope into military intervention, as failed half-measures would have required additional steps to preserve U.S. credibility."