The changes sweeping the Middle East could mean hope or despair for the region’s Christian communities, depending on the attitude of each country’s rulers, write Yoel Guzansky and Benedetta Berti in the National Interest.
Looking back at the past year’s transformation in the Middle East, there are reasons to be concerned as well as signs of positive development. On the bright side, democratization may indeed bring about increased pluralism, improving the visibility and integration of the region’s sectarian and religious minorities. But in the shorter term, the poststabilization phase may see growing intersocietal violence, placing the region’s minorities at heightened risks. In this sense, the rise in violence against Christian communities—whether in Egypt, Iraq or Syria—is worrisome for the entire region. The slow, far-from-ideal pace of the postrevolutionary democratization process and the rise of more radical Islamist groups, like the Salafists, are cause for concern among the region’s Christians.
Writing in the Guardian, Hossam el-Hamalawy describes the undiminished power of Egypt’s dreaded Interior Ministry, with its own private army.
Make no mistake, Mubarak’s interior ministry is still alive and well. We dealt some heavy blows to it on the Friday of Anger and the police were heroically fought on several occasions, including the mini uprising in November 2011. But still, the CSF, the SS (or what’s now calledHomeland Security) and most of the repression machine is intact, and moreover is receiving the direct help of the military police and the army’s intelligence services.
Walter Pincus of the Washington Post takes issue with American funding for the solely Israeli-owned Iron Dome missile defense shield.
Iron Dome was developed and built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., an Israeli government-owned, profit-making company that, since 2004, has been headed by retired Vice Adm. Yedidia Yaari, the former commander in chief of the Israel Navy. Rafael’s board chairman is retired Maj. Gen. Ilan Biran, former general director of the Ministry of Defense. In August, Rafael joined Raytheon Co. to market the Iron Dome system worldwide. The two are already partners in one of the other anti-missile systems that is being jointly run by Israel and the Pentagon.
Writing in Foreign Policy, Aaron David Miller responds to Ambassador Michael Oren’s recent piece on Israel’s negative international image.
The notion that Israel’s unfavorable image is a result of some evil cabal that plots daily against it infantilizes the Israelis and takes them out of history as real-world actors who sometimes do well in pursuit of their interests and at other times screw up badly. Israel is a remarkable state that has sought to preserve its moral and ethical soul in a cruel and unforgiving world. But it is still only a nation of mortals trying to survive in that world.
Hamas’ ongoing elections are seeing the rise of military leaders and the fall of moderate members of the organization, writes Ehu Yaari for the Washington Institute.
Although Haniyeh once again proved to be the most popular Hamas leader in Gaza, he is quite reluctant to claim overall leadership and often avoids controversy by letting more outspoken colleagues speak their minds. Alami, now widely perceived as a potential future successor to Mashal, better represents the most salient trend: the “Pasdaranization” of Hamas. Similar to the way the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (or Pasdaran) have managed to take over Iran’s state apparatus over the past decade, the Hamas military wing is now assuming control over the movement’s political course.