All analyses in chronological order - Afro-Middle East Centre

By Heidi-Jane Esakov

The story of Israel’s 22 January national elections was to be that of a right-wing government shifting even further to the right. In an unexpected outcome, political newcomer and suave former television talk-show host Yair Lapid scuppered that story when his ‘centrist’ and secular party, Yesh Atid, came second after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party Likud Beiteinu (formed with extreme right-winger, former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman). Although Yesh Atid

By Afro-Middle east Centre
 
The north of Africa was plunged into yet another international conflict with France’s invasion of Mali on Friday, 11 January. Without immediate intervention, France argued, the country would be taken over by Islamists. The French decision to intervene in Mali was received with support from the international community, African countries and the Malian government.
By Afro-Middle East Centre
 
On 29 November, 2012 the international community overwhelmingly voted the ‘State of Palestine’ as a ‘non-member observer state’ of the United Nations, yet the façade of statehood is already beginning to show. The successful passage of the resolution through the UN General Assembly is not the victory for Palestinians it has been made out to be. Rather, it might actually undermine their rights.
By Al-Jazeera Centre for Studies
syrian rebels
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The civil war in Syria seems dramatically to have passed the point of no return in September 2012. This development is due to the Syrian regime having lost momentum in its ground assaults against rebel bases in the north, south and central areas. Instead, it started relying on long-range shelling from artillery bases located near urban areas. The army’s use of military aircraft and helicopters – which seem to operate outside of normal rules of engagement and unconcerned about minimising human casualties and

By Al-Jazeera Centre for Studies

Egyptian president, Dr Muhammad Mursi, unexpectedly issued a new constitutional decree on Thursday, 22 November 2012. Before that, in an unofficial speech he gave after a Friday congregational prayer, he had hinted at his intention to take exceptional measures to tackle the risks the

By Hedi-Jane Esakov and Na'eem Jeenah
 
An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Hamas and Israel finally came into effect on Wednesday night, 21 November. As expected, both sides claimed victory. Gazans streamed elatedly onto the streets to celebrate the end of the eight-day long assault on the battered coastal strip. The response in Israel was more subdued.  Despite, or perhaps because of, a bus bombing in Tel Aviv that day that left seventeen people injured, a significant majority of the Israeli public wanted their government to push ahead with ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’.

Mubarak Mursi or Mursi Mubarak

  • 23 November, 2012
  • Published in Egypt

By Afro-Middle East Centre

In light of Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi’s successful brokering of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which came into effect Wednesday and saw him praised by US president Barack Obama and UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, amongst others, Mursi seems to be taking advantage of his surge in popularity. On Thursday he issued various decrees which threaten

By Na'eem Jeenah and Heidi-Jane Esakov

A ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel, which was to come into effect on Tuesday night, was delayed at the last minute due to ‘Israeli requests’. Despite the imminence of a ceasefire, Israel intensified its assault on the tiny, battered coastal strip as part of its ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’. In response, rockets continued to fly, somewhat ineffectually, from Gaza into Israel. The Palestinian death toll, currently at over 130, will undoubtedly climb as Israel’s ‘requests’ are wrangled over. Israel has the luxury to stall for time; it is the Gazans who have to bury their dead.

Mursi in charge, at home and abroad

  • 02 November, 2012
  • Published in Egypt

By Afro-Middle East Centre

The past few weeks have witnessed a convergence of several important issues facing post-uprising Egypt: new Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi’s opportunism in his attempt to reform the judiciary (as he was able to do with the military), the lack of accountability of those responsible for human rights abuses, post-conflict justice and the outstanding new constitution. This has culminated in a battle for the independence of a judiciary that is one of the last bastions of the old regime.

By Dr Mohsen Mohammad Saleh

The existence of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is an achievement to be proud of. Its establishment expressed the spirit of the Palestinian people’s desire to liberate the land and not see their cause subsumed by the wider Arab political and social milieu. Nevertheless, an objective analysis shows that the PLO today is not the same as the PLO at the time it was established in 1964. It is suffering from five main

By Afro-Middle East Centre

Recent statements that ‘there is no alternative….it’s going to take military force’, made by Jack Christofides, a senior official at the United Nations Department of Peace Keeping Operations, and intervention is ‘a matter of weeks, not months, weeks,’ by the French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, threaten to not only cause huge instability within Mali, but the Sahel region as a whole, blowing the crisis in Northern Mali far out of proportion.

By Heidi-Jane Esakov

During the forced removals of the South African suburb of Sophiatown in 1955, around 65,000 residents were moved and "dumped in matchbox houses" in black townships. Only a few years before that, in 1948, Bedouins of Israel's Naqab/Negev region, who Israel had not expelled, were also forcibly moved "from their ancestral lands into a restricted zone called the Siyag (literally, 'fenced in')". And, just as Sophiatown was completely bulldozed, the Negev village of Al-Arakib was recently razed to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest.

As a South African it is particularly difficult not to see the stark parallels between the experiences of black South Africans under apartheid and of Palestinians today.

By Osman Abdi Mohamed

In recent months Al-Shabab has been suffering successive losses at the hands of Somali government forces fighting alongside the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). It has lost strategic cities and towns in central and southern Somalia with little or no resistance at all. While these losses might not be complete game-changers, they are a clear indication that the group is in bad shape, at least at the moment. A greater and more devastating loss for Al-Shabab, even more so than the loss of ground, is the loss of all credibility with the larger Somali public.

By Afro-Middle East Centre

As Turkish troops amass on the Turkey-Syria border, and artillery exchange between the two countries threatens to enter its second week, there has been some speculation that Turkey might declare war on Syria. Yet, despite mounting tensions between the two countries, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asserted that Turkey, which has unambiguously aligned itself with the Syrian opposition, has no intention of going to war with its beleaguered neighbour. In turn, Syria’s President Bashar al Asad is well aware that even unintentional provocation that could open up a front with Turkey would be suicidal. The Syrian government is clinging tenaciously to power, and Asad will not want to put further pressure on an already fatigued and over-stretched military.

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies
 
It has been decades since the Israeli leadership has attempted to interfere in American presidential elections in the manner Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attempted in the past few weeks. It is not unusual or extraordinary for the Israelis and the American Zionist lobby groups allied to them to strive to influence American elections; but Netanyahu's interference in this election has been blatant and audacious, with outbursts reflecting despair and fear or, perhaps, calculated haste.
 

Opening Remarks by International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim at the International Conference of the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) on MENA: A transforming Region and its impact on the African Continent, Sheraton Hotel, Pretoria, 27 August 2012.

I wish to thank you kindly for the invitation to address this distinguished audience who have gathered here to discuss what is most certainly a relevant topic. For the many visitors from far afield, I extend to you a warm South African welcome and hope that you will enjoy every moment of your stay in our friendly country.

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

At the end of August 2012, Egypt's first civilian and first post-revolution president, Muhammad Mursi, completed his second month in office. The president, whose assumption of power sparked waves of doubt and ridicule, seems to have settled into his new job quite well after a tough run-off and a narrow electoral victory. In doing so, he has refuted all expectations of his quick fall and has reflected rare political statesmanship and great courage in decision-making. After his four brief trips outside the country, Mursi seems determined to revive Egyptian foreign policy.

By Afro-Middle East Centre

Sunday’s attack on an Egyptian border post near the Egypt/Israel border has threatened to reconfigure relations between Egypt and Hamas, and Egypt and Israel. Around thirty-five men attacked a border post near the Egyptian town of Rafah, killed sixteen soldiers, and commandeered two vehicles which were then used to cross the border into Israel. Israeli helicopters destroyed the armoured vehicle which successfully crossed the border. It is alleged that some of the men reached the post by sneaking through tunnels connecting Egypt and Gaza and that some Gazan group might have been involved.
 

By Ghassan Izzi

The Syrian uprising has placed Hizbullah in a predicament in terms of its ability to maintain its alliance with the Syrian regime and also enjoy the sympathy of the Arab people, especially that of the Syrians These issues may be understood through a number of indicators. There have been suggestions that Hizbullah is attempting to support the perpetuation of the Syrian regime but is, at the same time, preparing for a post-Asad Syria.

 

By the Afro-Middle East Centre

Events of the past few days in Egypt point to a clash within the political elite; it is, however, not likely to be a dramatic confrontation but a slow war of attrition stretching over the next few years. At the heart of the battle is the attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's first democratically-elected president, Muhammad Mursi, to relocate state executive powers within the presidency and legislative powers within the democratically-elected parliament.

By Afro-Middle East Centre
The audacious bombing of the high-level crisis cell meeting of Syrian President Bashar al Asad’s inner-circle last week that left four of Asad’s closest aides dead, had Syrian opposition groups elatedly proclaiming ‘the beginning of the end’ of the Asad regime. This was echoed by much of western media, which loudly forecast the imminent ousting of the Syrian president.

By ‘Izzat Shahrour

The use of China's veto over the Syrian crisis demonstrates that it no longer needs to sit on the fence on such international issues. In other words, there is no ambivalence on China’s part; it is decisive in its actions and no longer desires to either please everyone or to provoke anyone. China had previously maintained diplomatic relationships with smaller countries in order to gain support against Taiwan at the United Nations, or more generally to defend China against criticism of its human rights record. China is now recognised as an emerging international power especially after it asserted itself as a major economic force. Its strategic interests have changed and with that its relations with other major powers. These developments have effected a change in its policies and diplomatic conduct.

By the Afro-Middle East Centre

The sixteen month long Syrian uprising hit a critical juncture last Friday, 22 June, when Syria downed an unarmed Turkish F4 Phantom plane. An enraged Turkey maintained the plane was shot down in international airspace after it had only momentarily, and accidentally, strayed into Syrian territory while on a training sortie. Syria, which immediately admitted it had shot down the plane, countered that the plane had been gunned down over Syrian territory and that its forces had acted to protect its sovereignty. Although the incident has potentially changed the rules of engagement between Turkey and Syria, it is by no means a game changer for either.

By Zeenat Sujee

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) uprisings have brought to the fore numerous human rights issues. Several studies1 have found that a number of countries are not fully compliant in upholding their international obligations - according to the various human rights treaties and conventions. In the MENA region, in particular, many countries have experienced political changes which have had a detrimental effect on the implementation of certain rights, not least of which are the rights of refugees.

 

A 'Fat-free' Egyptian president

  • 22 June, 2012
  • Published in Egypt

By Abdel Bari Atwan

The resolutions and practices of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) have proven day after day that when it intervened to force President Husni Mubarak to step down, it was not serving the revolution as many (including myself) believed but was rather seizing power in a white revolution that was planned with utmost precision in accordance with scenarios that relied upon a gradual approach to abort the revolution and keep Egypt hostage to American obedience.

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About AMEC

Established in 1998, the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) aims to foster, produce and disseminate the highest quality of research on the Middle East, to maintain public discussion and to help shape the public discourse on issues related to the Middle East. Amec's research includes relations between Africa and the Middle East.

AMEC engages in funded research on the contemporary Middle East, and accepts research commissions from government, business, academia, non-governmental organisations, and community-based organisations.

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