May 21, 2012 | 4:23 am
The candidates for the Egyptian president reflect a cross-section of society, politics and stages of modern history, writes Ahmed El-Tonsi in Al-Ahram Weekly.
The forthcoming presidential elections will witness a competition among three generations, as well as between many candidates. The personalities of the latter and their popular images will be major factors in determining the voting behaviour of the vast majority of Egyptians. Two ill-defined forces will have a major impact on the selection of the next president: the youth forming more than 60 percent of the voters and those voters casting protest ballots against the candidates of Political Islam.
Syria’s ongoing violence is having a negative impact on already tense sectarian divides in neighboring Lebanon, writes Benedetta Berti of the Institute for National Security Studies.
[T]he most severe byproduct of the Syrian crisis is the current rise of inter-sectarian tensions. The recent violent confrontations inTripoli are a reflection of a largely factionalized and polarized society, characterized by a growing Sunni-Shiite divide. With the Sunni community largely backing the anti-Assad forces and the Shiites standing behind Assad, the Syrian crisis has escalated the tones of already sour political relations and the deep sectarian rift.
Paul Alster of the Times of Israel explores the reasons why Turkey’s abrasive prime minister has stepped away from alliances with Tehran and Damascus and is taking steps to mend fences with Israel.
This easing of the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean is surely more down to necessity on the part of the Turks than to a sea change in the attitude of their leader. With the door to Europe slammed in its face, Syria and Iran remaining on the international blacklist, no improvement in its relationship with Greece, and problems on its eastern frontier with Syrian refugees and Kurdish separatists, Turkey is surely keen to find friends in the region. Israel would be wise to make the most of the opportunity, while, of course, exercising caution and only moving one step at a time.
Navigating the future of NATO
Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Madeleine Albright offers praise for the NATO alliance, and takes a look at its current and future challenges.
Since its founding, NATO has been important not only for what it does, but for what it represents. In the aftermath of Hitler and in opposition to Stalin and his successors, the alliance was both the symbol and the substance of Western democratic resolve. Although in hindsight, this period may be thought of in glowing terms, in fact the members of the organization engaged in continuous debates about tactics, mission and burden sharing. NATO today is not explicitly aligned against any country, but it does remain the best prepared and most potent group opposed to terrorism, international aggression, and mass violations of human rights. This does not mean that NATO will act in every crisis, but its potential to do so when called upon is an indispensable and unique international asset.
With the death of the Libyan jailed for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, Robert Fisk of the Independent revisits long-held beliefs that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi did not carry out the 1988 attack that killed 270 people.
I’ve gone through these files and I long ago concluded that they were devastating. There was a Lebanese connection – probably a Palestinian one, too. And there was a press conference in Beirut held by Ahmed Jibril, head of the pro-Syrian Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command in which Jibril (born Palestine 1938), suddenly blurted out – without ever having been accused of the atrocity – the imperishable words: “I’m not responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. They are trying to get me with a kangaroo court.” Of course, there was no court, not then, just a bunch of pseudo-diplomats and journalists with too many “intelligence connections”, who were fingering Syria for the Lockerbie crime.
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