US Foreign Policy
- BBC: Iran once again at centre of US divide (Bahman Kalbasi, December 21)
"Pro-Israeli groups and neo-conservative centres have launched a massive and somewhat unprecedented campaign to prevent Mr Hagel from getting the top job at the Pentagon, accusing the former Nebraska senator of being anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli and soft on Iran."
- Reuters: Fragile Egypt economy overshadows Mursi's vote win (Edmund Blair, December 23)
"Without broad support, Mursi's government will find it harder to implement reforms needed to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. The Muslim Brotherhood's party, which propelled Mursi to office, may also face a tougher fight in a parliamentary election expected in about two months."
- The New York Times: Arrest of a Sunni minister’s bodyguards prompts protests in Iraq (Duraid Adnan and Tim Arango, December 21)
"The targeting once again of a Sunni leader by the Shiite-dominated central government threatened to further hinder Iraq’s halting process of sectarian reconciliation just as the country’s president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader and one of the few politicians capable of exerting a sense of calm over the country’s squabbling factions, was rushed to Germany for medical treatment after a stroke that officials said left him in a coma."
- AP: Palestinians aim to isolate Israel (Mohammed Daraghmeh, December 20)
- AP: New female mayor gears Betlehem up for Christmans (Lauren E. Bohn, December 21)
- BBC: Conditions ripe for Netanyahu election win (Kevin Connolly, December 20)
"Emboldened by their newly upgraded status at the United Nations, the Palestinians are talking of filing war crimes charges against Israel, staging mass demonstrations in the West Bank, encouraging the international community to impose sanctions, and ending the security cooperation that has helped preserve quiet in recent years."
"The local economy is battered, with the highest unemployment in the West Bank, and local Christians continue to leave Bethlehem, which years ago moved from a Christian majority to a Muslim one. But Baboun is trying to raise hope, pointing to the Palestinans' recent boost of status at the United Nations."
"The winds of change from the Arab Spring blow colder here than they do in the rest of the Middle East...In such times, many Israelis feel its natural to turn to a man like Mr Netanyahu who is seen as hawkish on national security issues - a man who makes Israel's case on the world stage even if he does not make many friends."
- Reuters: Fear slows Libyan probe into attack on U.S. mission in Benghazi (Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Hadeel Al Shalchi and Ghaith Shennib, December 19)
"A year after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, the legacy of four decades of one-man rule - when many formal institutions of statehood withered - and of the popular uprising that killed him, is an anarchic swarm of militias that provide both what passes for official security and poses the main threat to it."
- The Telegraph: Syrian rebels cut off Bashar al-Assad’s escape route (Ruth Sherlock, December 17)
- Time: Assad’s Cash Problem: Will Syria’s Dwindling Reserves Bring Down the Regime? (Vivienne Walt, December 21)
- Reuters: Al Qaeda grows powerful in Syria as endgame nears (Khaled Yacoub Oweis, December 20)
"For centuries, this was his and his people's homeland, the verdant terrain belonging to his minority Alawite sect. Now it is this enclave comprising the coastal cities of Latakia and Tartous and mountains to the east that the many in the President's his sect see as their and his last chance of making a breakaway Alawite state to protect them against the Sunni majority rebellion."
"That tipping point, in which the government faces all-out financial collapse, seems to be drawing near—between three to six months from now, according to the calculations of Seifan and others who have examined Syria’s finances."
"The rise of al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front, which the United States designated a terrorist organisation last week, could usher in a long and deadly confrontation with the West, and perhaps Israel."
- Reuters: Yemeni president curbs rival's power in army overhaul (Mohammed Ghobari, December 19)
"Yemen's president ordered a broad overhaul of the military on Wednesday in a move that appeared to undermine a political rival and could deepen instability in the impoverished Arab state."