January 31, 2012
Must Read, January 31, 2012
In the wake of dramatic changes in Egypt, writes Omar Ashour in Project Syndicate, the new parliament and the military are fighting for political control of the country.
“If the generals do not want democracy, nor do they want direct military rule à la Augusto Pinochet. So, what do they want? Ideally, they would like to combine the Algerian army’s current power and the Turkish army’s legitimacy. This implies a parliament with limited powers, a weak presidency subordinate to the army, and constitutional prerogatives that legitimate the army’s intervention in politics.”
Paul Scham writes in The National Interest that with Hamas increasingly isolated from its main sponsors Iran and Syria, the group is looking for a new home and a new direction – all of which could lead to a form of rapprochement with Israel.
“If Hamas is distancing itself from Iran, its longtime patron, and Syria is not in a position to threaten anyone outside its borders for the foreseeable future, the organization needs to find a new patron—which may require an adjustment of its policies.”
Seth Jones of Foreign Affairs takes a comprehensive look at a long overlooked relationship between two unlikely bedfellows: Iran has been quietly hosting senior al Qaeda officials since late 2001, albeit with restrictions.
‘On the surface, the relationship between Shia Iran and Sunni al Qaeda is puzzling. Their religious views do differ, but they share a more important common interest: countering the United States and its allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. Iran’s rationale might be compared to that of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who declared, “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”’
China Courts the Middle East
“As a rising global power, China favors the region’s status quo, gambling it can continue to fulfill its growing hydrocarbon needs from the Middle East, acquiring a larger footprint there while spurning the West’s pressure to join its anti-Iran drive.”
The Economist takes a slightly different tack on China’s ties to Iran, arguing that international affairs are more of a consideration for Beijing than it may claim.
“It is fair to assume that Chinese leaders are sincere when they say they do not want a nuclear-armed Iran. Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, was unusually explicit about this on January 20th. China, he said, “adamantly opposes Iran developing and possessing nuclear weapons.” China may resent the hypocrisy of Western leaders, who tolerate nuclear programmes in India and Israel, but it seems to accept that Iran’s acquisition of the bomb would be bad for regional stability.”