NSN Middle East Update

June 11, 2012

A cocktail of political and military developments across the region highlights the need for firm principles and flexible action from Washington, as the “givens” of decades shift overnight. In Syria, the government continues to massacre citizens as the opposition picks a new leader and builds military capacity, and ethnic politics grow more complex on all sides. In Egypt, deposed president Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison and the country prepares for a runoff to pick a new president. And across the region, the nuts and bolts of political transformation – holding elections, retrieving dictators’ assets and documenting human rights abuses – continue.

Syria

Over the weekend, government forces shelled rebel strongholds across Syria as the main opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Council, chose a new leader, Abdulbaset Sieda. Sieda is a Kurdish dissident who has been living in Sweden for more than a decade; his election is seen as an attempt to woo minority groups into supporting the opposition. Increasingly, Bashar al Assad’s religious sect, the Alawites, is divided over whether to support the dictator’s actions. That dissension comes as the main armed opposition group, the Free Syrian Army, is slowly gaining ground and strength – albeit from a very low base.

News

Syrian Forces Shell Cities as Opposition Picks Leader

New York Times, 6/10/12

A General Overview and Guide to the Syrian Opposition

BBC, 6/10/12

Assad’s Response to Syria Unrest Leaves His Own Sect Divided

New York Times, 6/9/12

Syria Rebels Gaining Ground, Strength

Washington Post, 6/8/12

Commentary and Analysis

The Case Against Intervention in Syria

Fareed Zakaria, TIME, 6/11/12

Syrian Intervention is Justifiable, and Just

Anne-Marie Slaughter, Washington Post, 6/8/12

Syrian Intervention Risks Upsetting Global Order

Henry Kissinger, Washington Post, 6/1/12

Obama’s Iran and Syria Muddle

Jackson Diehl, Washington Post, 6/10/12

 

Egypt

Hosni Mubarak, the deposed president of Egypt, was sentenced to life in prison on June 2, 2012 for his role in the in the killing of unarmed demonstrators during the January 2011 protests that ended his nearly 30-year rule. However, the judge also acquitted a half-dozen other officials who are believed to have had direct responsibility and dismissed corruption charges against Mubarak and his sons due to a statute of limitations. As a result, thousands of protesters have poured into the streets of Cairo and other cities. Meanwhile, Egypt is also preparing for its presidential runoff election between Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmed Shafik, the former prime minister, on June 16 and 17.

News

Hosni Mubarak is in Critical Condition

Associated Press, 6/10/12

Egyptian Officials Agree on the Selection Process for the Panel Charged with Drafting a New Constitution

BBC, 6/8/12

Thousands Pack Tahrir Square to Protest the Mubarak Verdicts

AFP, 6/5/12

Mubarak Sentenced to Life in Prison

CBS, 6/2/12

Egyptian Election Will Go to a Runoff Vote

Los Angeles Times, 5/25/12

Commentary and Analysis

Managing Change in Egypt

Brian Katulis, Center for American Progress, 6/5/12

Egypt’s Depressing Run-Off

Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy, 5/28/12

Why Voters Went for Mursi and Shafiq

Jon Alterman, Foreign Affairs, 6/5/12

Around the Region

News

Libya Postpones Landmark Election to July 7

Reuters, 6/10/12

Yemen Army Battles Al-Qaida, Says 28 Killed

AP, 6/11/12

Obstacles Mar Quest for Arab Dictators’ Assets

Robert Worth, New York Times, 6/7/12

State Department Human Rights Report Released

New York Times, 5/25/12

United Arab Emirates Step Up Efforts to Counter Dissent

New York Times 5/31/12

 

Commentary and Analysis

Strategic Adaptation: Toward a New U.S. Strategy in the Middle East

Dr. Bruce Jentleson, Dr. Andrew Exum, Melissa Dalton and John Dana Stuster, Center for a New American Security, 6/6/12

Obama Ramps Up Covert War in Yemen

Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland, CNN, 6/11/12

What Middle East Academic Experts Think

Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy, 6/1/12

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