- Washington Post: Egypt readies for backlash over austerity measures (Abigail Hauslohner, December 30)
"Egypt’s government is readying itself for the potential political fallout of impending austerity measures as it seeks to guarantee a badly needed $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund next month. As the Egyptian pound hit a record low Sunday, Prime Minister Hesham Kandil told reporters that the loan might be the only way out of Egypt’s economic crisis."
- Washington Post: In Iran, new movies boost wobbly film sector (Jason Rezaian, December 26)
" Iran’s acclaimed movie industry is the latest sector to suffer the effects of economic sanctions over the country’s uranium-enrichment program. But as filmmakers warn that they might pause production because of lagging funds, two controversial new releases are breathing life into the domestic cinema scene."
- Reuters: Iraq Sunni rallies gather steam (Kamal Naama & Aseel Kami, December 27)
"Should Friday's protests provide a mass show of force, it may add to concerns that the increasingly sectarian Syrian civil war, where majority Sunnis are battling a ruler backed by Iran, will push Iraq back to the Sunni-Shi'ite slaughter of 2005-07. Al Qaeda fighters appear to be regrouping in Anbar and to be joining rebel ranks across the border in Syria."
- Reuters: Netanyahu set to win Israel election but rightists gain: polls (Ari Rabinovitch, December 28)
"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party is set to win a parliamentary election on January 22 although the popularity of a far-right party opposed to Palestinian statehood is growing"
- Al Monitor: Hezbollah Media Outlets Warm To Christians in Lebanon (Nasser Chararah, December 30)
"This year, Hezbollah media outlets in Lebanon displayed an uncommon willingness to broadcast Christian celebrations, a sign that the Shiite group is trying to court Christians into an eventual alliance against rising Sunni extremism."
- The Guardian: "The people of Aleppo needed someone to drag them into the revolution" (Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, December 27)
- The Guardian: Syrian rebels sidetracked by scramble for spoils of war (Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, December 28)
- The New York Times: No easy route if Assad opts to go, or to stay, in Syria (Anne Barnard & Hwaida Saad, December 24)
"The war in Aleppo is not only funded by what can be appropriated by the various units, but also by the patronage that they can attract from sponsors outside Syria, a factor which has also contributed to the myriad forming and re-forming of units, all of which control individual fiefdoms in the city."
"Abu Ali Sulaibi was one of the first people to take up arms in Aleppo. Now he controls two shattered blocks on the frontline where he lives with his wife, four children and Squirrel the cat"
"Analysts in Russia, one of Syria’s staunchest allies, say that as rebels try to encircle Damascus and cut off escape routes to the coast, the mood in the palace is one of panic, evinced by the erratic use of weapons: Scud missiles better used against an army than an insurgency, naval mines dropped from the air instead of laid at sea."
- Al Monitor: Turkey’s New Thinking on Iraqi Kurdistan (Semih Idiz, December 27)
"The bottom line in all this, however, is that Turkey is showing it can not only live with an independent Kurdistan, but also cooperate with it, despite the PKK factor which continues to cause tensions between the sides. This is a momentous change of position."
United Arab Emirates
- Reuters: UAE says arrests cell planning attacks (Rania El Gamal, December 26)
"The UAE has escaped the upheaval that has shaken the Arab world but moved swiftly to stem any sign of political dissent by detaining more than 60 local Islamists this year over alleged threats to state security and links to a foreign group."