In the first televised interview of his campaign, former Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowed that the banned Muslim Brotherhood will not exist if he wins the presidency. Sisi led the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and the Muslim Brotherhood has since been designated a terrorist organization. The military-backed government has killed more than a thousand pro-Morsi demonstrators and imprisoned over 10,000 political opponents, primarily Islamists. Sisi claimed the Muslim Brotherhood has ties to militant groups and mentioned that two plots to assassinate him had been discovered. He said it would not be possible for the Brotherhood to re-enter political life in Egypt and asserted, "It's not me who finished the Muslim Brotherhood -- the Egyptian people have." Sisi is widely expected to win Egypt's presidential election on May 26 and 27.
The United States said it will recognize the offices of Syria's main opposition alliance, the Syrian National Coalition, as diplomatic missions. The State Department also pledged $27 million in nonlethal aid bringing the total U.S. assistance since the beginning of the Syrian conflict to $287 million. The moves have come ahead of talks between Secretary of State John Kerry, and other senior U.S. officials, and a delegation of Syrian opposition leaders, including SNC President Ahmad Jarba. While granting the opposition coalition diplomatic status does not mean the United States is recognizing the SNC as Syria's government, it will make it easier to facilitate banking and security services. Jarba said it was a "diplomatic blow against Assad's legitimacy and demonstrates how far the opposition has progressed."
- An Egyptian court has banned officials from former President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party from running in elections.
- A French security guard working at the EU mission in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa was shot and killed Monday.
- Hamas released six Fatah prisoners held in Gaza beginning to implement a unity deal signed two weeks ago between the Palestinian factions.
- The Iranian navy has been building replicas of U.S. warships to practice blowing them up, and Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi boasted about the capability to destroy U.S. vessels.
Arguments and Analysis
'Libya's Faustian Bargains: Breaking the Appeasement Cycle' (Karim Mezran, Jason Pack, and Mohamed Eljarh, Atlantic Council)
"The proximal cause of Libya's current problems in the security sector, the economy, and the transition to constitutional governance is the Libyan authorities' policy of appeasement of their opponents. Some analysts have absolved the post-Qaddafi authorities-the National Transitional Council (NTC), General National Congress (GNC), government, cabinet, and ministries-of both their agency and responsibility for the current problems by blaming Qaddafi-era policies, Libya's primordial social and regional structures, and the absence of institutions (such as a national army or civil society) for most challenges currently facing the country. These factors are, indeed, key components of the troubles and constitute the root causes of the current situation. However, these preexisting factors have been exacerbated and mutated by the practice of appeasement."
'Near Eastern Promises: Why Washington Should Focus on the Middle East' (Kenneth M. Pollack and Ray Takeyh, Foreign Affairs)
"Nevertheless, the fact that these problems have not already affected American interests suggests that, in confronting the region's instability, a modestly increased effort might be all that is required to safeguard U.S. interests against the Middle East's myriad threats. Obama might have pushed the pendulum of U.S. involvement in the Middle East too far toward disengagement, but there is no need to swing it back to the militarized overinvolvement that characterized the administration of George W. Bush."
'Excluding the Old Regime: Political Participation in Tunisia' (Karina Piser, Muftah)
Tunisia's ongoing debate on political exclusion reflects the dilemmas inherent in maintaining institutional stability during transitions to democracy. Obviously, it is important to keep those guilty of torture, corruption, and other violations of human rights on the sidelines. But, as the Tunisian experience demonstrates, authoritarian practices deprive a country of a viable political culture that extends beyond a small coterie of elites. In banning opposition parties and silencing dissent, dictators, like Ben Ali, allow only their inner circle to gain political expertise and experience in governance.
In Tunisia, the first three years after Ben Ali's ouster have been a period of nascent democracy, with fledgling political parties asserting themselves for the first time. During the constitution's drafting, for example, some attributed the lengthy process to a lack of experience among assembly members, while also recognizing the NCA's importance in promoting a shift toward democracy in the country."
-- Mary Casey
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