David Rothkopf on Syria and the need to build a more robust system of international institutions

Here’s a thread from David Rothkopf on twitter. I have nothing to add but my endorsement. Time to get serious about the international order.


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Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 01/25/2018

  • tags: Africa AFRICOM military US USA Libya Tunisia Egypt Somalia hornofafrica Chad Mali

    • It appears that Africa will almost certainly become the next major front in the Global War on Terror. According to Congressional Research Service Africa analyst Lauren Ploch, the return of foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria to their home countries in Africa will pose a huge problem for DoD. Tunisia has the highest recorded number of foreign fighters who have traveled to Iraq and Syria ever; Libya’s weak borders and milieu of non-state armed actors make it an appealing safe haven for ISIS escapees; in the Lake Chad Basin, Boko Haram has split into two factions aligned with ISIS and al Qaeda, respectively; Somalia remains fertile ground for al Shabaab terror recruits; even Egypt may reach the limit of its security capabilities in responding to cascading regional threats.
    • U.S. involvement in the Saudi military intervention in Yemen has plunged the Pentagon into two distinct engagements: one in support of the Saudis, and one against al Qaeda and ISIS. These tensions are most pronounced not in the Lake Chad Basin, according to Ploch, but the Horn of Africa and countries bordering the Red Sea that are subject to the overlapping geopolitical rivalries the Trump administration detailed in its National Defense Strategy.
    • “Waterfront property in the African countries along the Red Sea seems to be an increasingly hot commodity: The U.S. and France have had military facilities in Djibouti for over a decade, but the country is getting increasingly crowded. China just opened a base and Saudi Arabia is in talks for one.”
    • “Fragile states, governments not in control of their territory …  People can set up camp and do whatever they want. Nothing will change in Libya or Somalia or parts of the Sahel like Mali or Niger. There are terror groups operations there that aren’t even connected to international terror … who we used to go in and target in places like the eastern Congo. We’re not doing those things. There’s no appetite for that.”
    • “In terms of AFRICOM’s ‘bread and butter’ activities — namely security cooperation — it is still somewhat unclear how DoD and the [Trump] administration will prioritize limited resources; AFRICOM’s security cooperation spending was down in 2017 from the previous few years.”
    • These training missions “are five guys deploying to a country they’ve never heard of and trying to professionalize military justice, or even just get troops to walk in a straight line,” she told Task & Purpose. “[AFRICOM] was given an impossible task and no money to do it, and they have to deal with lots of people who like to operate without oversight and take advantage of this. It is not their fault.”
    • ‘training and equipping’ — or more often ‘equipping and training’ — isn’t enough,”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 10/22/2016

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Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 05/27/2016

  • tags: Tunisia Egypt economy unemployment youth demonstrations analysis book

    • situate the movements in Egypt and Tunisia in the framework of the imposition of neoliberal economic reform and structural adjustment programs (ERSAPs) on Tunisia, from the mid-1980s, and Egypt, from 1991. The labor movements were the most salient expression of the deteriorating conditions of life under the regime of neoliberal globalization, or “flexible accumulation,” as the regulation school of political economy terms it
    • The recent murder and torture of the Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni, who was researching the independent trade union movement in Egypt, suggests that it will be quite a while before anyone takes up this subject again.
    • class and political economy were far more salient elements of the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt (and I might have added Bahrain and Morocco) than most Western (and even local) accounts were willing to acknowledge
    • the successful installation of a (highly problematic, to be sure) procedural democracy in Tunisia, in contrast to the establishment of an authoritarian praetorian regime far more vicious than that of Mubarak in Egypt, made it necessary to argue that class and political economy alone do not determine outcomes
    • The character and political role of the Tunisian and Egyptian armies is also a factor
    • the economic and social discontent expressed by the desperate demise of Bouazizi and Yahyaoui has only intensified
    • In 2010 the national unemployment rate was under thirteen percent. By 2015 the figure rose to 15.3 percent. Unemployment rates in the center-west and southern regions of the country (including Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid) are typically nearly double the national average. In 2015 the OECD estimated national youth unemployment (ages fifteen to twenty-four) at nearly forty percent.
    • The government understands the problem, but has no solution. On 20 January the cabinet announced that 5,000 unemployed in Kasserine would be hired for new public sector jobs. Another 1,400 were to be hired through an existing employment program. However, on 22 January, Finance Minister Slim Chaker revoked the promise of 5,000 new jobs in Kasserine, claiming that the previous announcement was due to a “communication error.”

      There will be another revolution if the social and economic circumstances do not change,” said President Béji Caïd Essebsi on the fifth anniversary of Tarek Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation. Nidaa Tounes, a big-tent coalition of secularists ranging from former communists to former Ben Ali supporters has split. Over two dozen of its deputies have left, and it is no longer the largest party in the parliament. The terrorist attacks have reduced tourism to a catastrophically low level. The economy is not expected to grow at all in 2016. None of its traditional elite political forces—secular or Islamist—imagine an economic program substantially different than the one Tunisia has pursued since the mid-1980s.

    • On 19 January, faced with a UGTT threat to call a general strike, the employers’ association (UTICA) agreed to increase wages for about 1.5 million private sector workers. But for the unemployed, the streets are their only recourse.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 01/24/2016

  • tags: ArabSpring analysis opinion Egypt Tunisia Jordan Yemen Algeria Morocco Libya Bahrain Syria revolution authoritarianism

    • What Egypt witnessed, and what soon spread to most of the Arab revolutionary states, is that the action of the revolution itself, the mass civilian protest, was sufficient to bring down the regimes but could not uproot the state establishment.

      The Arab regimes, with few exceptions, were able since the 1960s to seize full control of the state, with all its civilian, security and military apparatuses and managed to subjugate it to the rulers’ needs. Those who stand in the face of the peoples, and those who turned against the movement of revolution and change, are not just the traditional ruling class, but the entire state establishment.

    • the forces of revolution and change were not able to see the importance of what the Arabs share in common.

      They did not realise that they were facing counterrevolutionary forces both locally and regionally. All the faltering of the Arab revolution and its counterrevolution has a regional dimension. In the case of Syria in particular, the regional soon changed into international.

    • the counterrevolution’s wave has not been able to provide an alternative capable of gaining sufficient legitimacy to continue. All the counterrevolutionary states are in fact failing states

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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