Egypt's Defense Minister and army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced Wednesday that he had resigned from the military to run for the presidency. The announcement from Sisi, who led the takeover of President Mohamed Morsi's elected government in July 2013, was widely anticipated. In an address broadcast on state television, Sisi said he was answering "the demand of a wide range of Egyptians who have called on me to run for this honorable office." He spoke of goals including creating a "better Egypt" and a mission to regain the country's "posture and power" and noted the challenges in the "economic, social, political, and security realities." However, Sisi said he would not release a formal political platform until Egypt's electoral commission finalizes the election registration process. No date has been set for the election, however Sisi is expected to easily win.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said 53.6 percent of Syria's chemical weapons have either been removed or destroyed within the country. In a report to the United Nations, the OPCW said Syria vowed to remove all chemicals by April 13, except for those in areas "that are presently inaccessible." Syria has pledged to transport or destroy all of its chemical weapons materials by April 27. Meanwhile, some U.S. lawmakers lashed out at the Obama administration Wednesday over its Syria policy. Members of the Foreign Relations Committee demanded a stronger U.S. response to the Syrian conflict and greater transparency on the status of the destruction of the Syrian regime's chemical weapons arsenal, as well as what military action the White House is considering.
- U.S. jurors have swiftly convicted Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith of conspiring to kill Americans and providing support to terrorists.
- Egypt's state prosecutor ordered two more mass trials for 919 Muslim Brotherhood supporters on charges including terrorism and murder days after 529 people were sentenced to death.
- A sharp increase in the number of people Iran and Iraq put to death caused a global spike in executions in 2013, rising by almost 15 percent over 2012, according to Amnesty International.
- U.S. Secretary of State Kerry has made an unexpected trip to Jordan to meet with Palestinian President Abbas in efforts to salvage the Israel-Palestinian peace process amid a dispute over a prisoner release.
Arguments and Analysis
‘Saudi Arabia: A kingdom on guard' (Roula Khalaf, Financial Times)
"People close to the Riyadh government say Saudi Arabia is assuming regional responsibility and will no longer tolerate those who spread chaos across the region. "We are becoming an initiator of policy and defining our interests," says one.
Others, however, say the moves are a sign of growing insecurity at a time when an ageing leadership is desperate to return the Arab world to a more comfortable pre-Arab awakening status quo, however intolerant that might seem.
This apparent nervousness has been accentuated by the suspicion among Saudi officials that the US is abandoning the Kingdom while seeking better relations with Iran, Riyadh's regional rival. President Barack Obama will seek to assuage these fears when he visits Saudi Arabia this week.
‘Saudi Arabia has changed. Before it was more cautious, more diplomatic. Now it's more assertive and more paranoid,' says a Saudi political analyst who asked to remain anonymous."
‘Sisi runs for president in Nasser's shadow' (Wael Nawara, Al-Monitor)
"If Sisi wins, does this mean a revival of Arab nationalism? Arabs have so much in common; language, religion, cultural proximity, a seamless territorial connectivity and strong emotional bonds. But Arab nationalism based on old-style chants cannot work. Arabs need to work hard on economic integration to shift their trade relations' focus inward. Sisi expresses a commitment to social justice, "that it is not acceptable for sick Egyptians to be unable to find affordable medical care." But he also made so many hints at having to face harsh economic realities and work hard to save the country's economy as a first priority.
So, before Nasserist enthusiasts prematurely celebrate a return to the 1960s, they should read more carefully into Sisi's messages. It would be foolish for Sisi or anyone else to repeat mistakes that proved disastrous and policies that could never be sustained.
Perhaps what Sisi has most in common with Nasser is a confessed vision to building a strong and independent Egypt. And in light of the hardships now and those expected ahead, no one can envy the coming president of Egypt, whoever he may be."
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