NSN Middle East Update

March 8, 2012

A year after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the Middle East is contending with the twin challenges of geopolitics and the transition to democracy. Egypt and Libya each wrestle with continuing difficulties in their transitions. Yemenis welcome the country’s first new president in 30 years – while protests and al Qaeda violence continued. Syria’s agonies continue while its neighbors disagree on how to end the killing, with Turkey calling for diplomacy and Saudi Arabia ratcheting up actions in support of the Free Syrian Army.

Syria

The Obama administration announced it would provide humanitarian and communications assistance to Syrian opposition groups. UN envoy Kofi Annan warned against the use of military force in Syria, saying it could make the situation worse, while the presidents of Turkey and Tunisia also voiced opposition to outside military intervention. After days of being refused entry into the city of Homs, UN aid chief Valerie Amos visited the city with the International Red Crescent. Upon touring the bombarded Baba Amr district, Amos remarked that the area was “completely devastated.” Syria’s deputy oil minister Abdo Hussameddin reportedly announced his defection to the opposition, making him the highest-level official to leave the Assad government. As the turmoil rages on, Syria’s neighbors, namely Jordan and Lebanon, face economic uncertainty and refugee issues as thousands flee the conflict. While China and Russia refuse to budge on allowing international condemnation, Saudi Arabia has begun to play a larger role by pulling the strings of the oil market and arming the Syrian opposition.

News

Effects of Instability Spill Over to Syria’s Neighbors

New York Times, 3/7/12

Obama Administration Moves to Aid Syrian Opposition

Foreign Policy, 3/6/12

Syria Crisis: Obama Rejects US Military Intervention

BBC, 3/6/12

More Violence in Syria as Forces Scramble to Scrub Signs of Assault on Homs

New York Times, 3/6/12

General: Syrian Air Defense Complicates US Options

AP via Boston Globe, 3/6/12

Syria Crisis: Valerie Amos Describes Homs ‘Devastation’

BBC, 3/7/12

Syria’s Deputy Oil Minister Defects: YouTube Video

Reuters, 3/8/12

Turkey Opposes Military Intervention in Syria

AP, 3/8/12

Commentary and Analysis

Now or Never: A Negotiated Transition for Syria

International Crisis Group, 3/5/12

Syria: The Post-Assad Unknowns

Steven Cook, CFR.org, 3/5/12

Can the ICC Take on Syria?

Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy, 3/5/12

Thinking Through Our Options in Syria

Peter Juul, Center for American Progress, 3/2/12

Egypt

As the country marks the first anniversary of President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, Egyptian activists rallied to demand an end to military rule and encourage other Egyptians to join them in a strike until the military council hands over authority to a civilian council. Egyptian officials allowed seven Americans and other foreigners to leave the country during the prosecution of four American-backed nonprofit organizations, while American officials are pushing to have the case dropped.

News

American Democracy Workers Make Chaotic Exit from Egypt

Telegraph, 3/1/12

Cairo Calm on the Anniversary of Mubarak’s Ousting but Protesters Hope for Sustained Strikes

Telegraph, 2/11/12

Islamists Could Crown Egypt’s Next President

CBS News, 3/7/12

Commentary and Analysis

Analysis: Economic Gloom Begins to Lift in Egypt

Tom Pfeiffer, Reuters, 2/29/12

Egypt Must Look Back Before It Can Move Forward

Khaled Elgindy, Brookings Institute, 2/14/12

Yemen

Yemen welcomed its first new president in more than thirty years, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, whose administration must contend with a struggling economy and thriving militants. Antigovernment protesters continue to fill the streets in large numbers and remain adamant about the need to restructure the army. The United States offered support to the new leader, including his plan to help Yemen’s new government fight al Qaeda.

News

Yemenis Demand Ouster of Army Commanders after Defeat by al-Qaida that Left 185 Dead

The Washington Post, 3/6/12

AQAP Claims Responsibility for Yemen Attacks

CNN, 3/7/12

Ex-President Saleh to Leave Yemen After Handover, Officials Say

CNN, 2/27/12

Commentary and Analysis

Yemen’s New President: Another Anwar Al-Sadat? – Analysis

Sami Moubayed, Eurasia Review, 3/6/12

Yemen Loses a Dictator, but Not His Shadow

Andrew G. Reiter, Christian Science Monitor, 2/23/12

Libya

News

Obama Meets with Libyan Prime Minister

USA Today, 3/7/12

Libya Leader Rejects Eastern Autonomy Bid

Global Post, 3/7/12

Libyan Militia Hands Tripoli Airport to Government

Boston Globe, 3/8/12

Commentary and Analysis

Libya Militias Pose Threat to Precarious Stability

Los Angeles Times, 3/7/12

Analysis: Cracks Opening in Libya Reflect Failure of NTC to Get a Grip

Chris Stephen, Scotsman, 3/8/12

Around the Region

News

Arab Spring and Iran Tensions Leave Palestinians Sidelined

New York Times, 3/7/12

Arab Spring Fails to Allay Women’s Anxieties

New York Times, 3/7/12

Islamist, Leftist Students Clash at Tunisian University Over Women’s Face Veil

Washington Post, 3/7/12

Fifteen Dead in Iraq Bomb Attacks

CNN, 3/7/12

Commentary and Analysis

For Minorities, Now is the Time to Report

Michael Young, The Daily Star, 3/1/12

The New Middle East’s Internal Divisions

Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Post, 3/4/12

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