Northern Africa


Al-Sisi Seizes the Lead in the Peace Process

President Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt is a man of vision.   In addition to his ambitions for his own country, there is mounting evidence that he aims to build a positive legacy for himself in the wider Middle East. He seems to have set his sights on promoting not only a new peace-making initiative between Israel and the Palestinians, but a further effort to bridge the apparently irreconcilable differences between the two wings of the Palestinian body politic, Hamas and Fatah. It was in a determined counter-attack on the terror-based Islamism represented by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates that Sisi…
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Religious Conservatism Redefines Symbolism of National Sports Teams

Religious Conservatism Redefines Symbolism of National Sports Teams

Over the past decade, religiosity and religious intolerance have seeped into national sports teams in Pakistan and Egypt, societies that have been wracked by faith-based narrow-mindedness and political fanaticism. The trend is exemplified by two national team managers, a controversial Pakistani cricket captain and a storied Egyptian midfielder-turned-glorified-soccer coach. The trend reflects the devastating impact of religious and/or political intolerance in Pakistan and Egypt. It has redefined the symbolism of Pakistan’s national cricket team and Egypt’s national soccer squad. Governments as well as national and international sports associations have encouraged the trend by failing to enforce good governance. Both managers,…
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Egyptian fans carry placards and the national flag (AFP)

Egypt Inches Towards Return of Militant Fans to Stadium Terraces

Egypt may be inching towards a return to the stands of soccer fans, who played a key role in the 2011 toppling of President Hosni Mubarak and have been barred entry into stadiums for much of the last five years. Clubs, players and fans see a June 28 CAF Champions League match between storied Cairo club Al Ahli SC and Ivory Coast’s ASEC Mimosas Abidjan as a dry run for a gradual lifting of the ban that has repeatedly sparked at times deadly clashes between militant, street battle-hardened fans and security forces. International matches have been largely exempted from the…
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Top Arab Country on the ‘Good Country Index’ Is Tunisia

Tunisia has held the top spot on the Arab level and 48th worldwide in the “Good Country” Index, according to statistics published on the Good Country website. The Good Country Index is a league table based on 35 separate indicators from sources including the United Nations and the World Bank. The report, which weighs up a country’s contributions to the planet and the human race relative to its size ‒ measured in GDP ‒ is the brainchild of leading policy advisor Simon Anholt, whose aim is “to find ways of encouraging countries to collaborate and co-operate a lot more and compete a bit…
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A group of young ladies carrying a large banner saying "bread - freedom - human dignity"[lit. khobz - huriyya - karama insaniyya] in Tahrir Square on 01 February 2011. © Image: Osama M. Hijji.

Egypt Trapped in Transformational Process?

The so-called “Arab Spring” began on December 17, 2010 in Tunisia when Mohammad Bouazizi, a vegetable salesman in informal economy, set himself on fire on January 4, 2011. He was denied the opportunity to continue his low-paid job and his action was to protest against mistreatment by the local police and government authorities. Protests, which were attended by informal workers, lawyers and most importantly the youth, spread quickly from rural areas to urban locations in Tunisia. This civil protest led to the removal of Zine Al-Abdin Bin Ali after two decades of dictatorship. These protests then spread to Egypt where…
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Protesters use flares as Al Ahly ultras pack Tahrir Square in Cairo on January 18, 2013, as anger rose ahead of a court verdict over the 2012 Port Said disaster. Khalil Hamra / AP

Egypt’s Regime Boosts Calls for Security Sector Reform

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s brutal regime in rare gestures towards his opponents has twice this year recognized the potential street power of his country’s militant, street battle-hardened soccer fans. In doing so, the regime has implicitly acknowledged that security forces rather than the fans were responsible for past violence and provided ammunition for calls for wholesale reform of law enforcement. The Sisi regime’s latest gesture came this week when for the first time in five years allowed thousands of members of the Ultras White Knights (UWK), hard-line supporters of storied Cairo club Al Zamalek FC who played a key…
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In Libya, You Can Buy Anti-Aircraft Gun on Facebook - MPC JOURNAL

In Libya, You Can Buy Anti-Aircraft Gun on Facebook

An online marketplace for illicit weapons is thriving in the Middle East and North Africa, according to a study released today that found sales of heavy machine guns, rocket and grenade launchers, and anti-aircraft guns on private Facebook groups in Libya. During his 40-year reign, colonel Muammar Gaddafi stockpiled an estimated $30 billion worth of weapons. At the time, the arms trade was strictly regulated and the country had limited access to the internet. (Libya is still the only country where connection speed is on average less than 1.0 Mbp.) Since his overthrow and death in 2011, those weapons have…
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Libya – Something Should Be Done Image ©:AP PHOTO/RODRIGO ABD

Libya – Something Should Be Done

“Something should be done” is a phrase which resonates with students of Britain’s political history.  It was the off-the-cuff comment made by short-term King Edward VIII in November 1936, just a month before he abdicated to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson.  He was visiting an abandoned colliery in an area of high unemployment. “These works brought all these people here,” he said.  “Something should be done to get them at work again.” The remark created a furore in British political circles, since it was taken as a royal rebuke to the government for not doing enough to tackle the…
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