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Showing posts from May 20, 2014

Egypt's Future Hinges on the Al-Sisi Presidency

An Egyptian man walks under posters of Egypt's former army chief and leading presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on May 12.(KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Former Egyptian military chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to win the May 26-27 presidential election in Egypt, the first since the July 2013 coup that ousted the country's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi. The Egyptian military is counting on al-Sisi's presidency to bring stability to the world's most populous Arab state, and through that stability, preserve the military's privileged place in Egyptian politics.

However, there are more challenges now than when previous military-backed leaders ran the country. Al-Sisi lacks an established party to rule through and is contending with multiparty politics, rising jihadism, an angry and alienated Muslim Brotherhood and an economy in disarray and dependent on other countries for support. Even if al-Sisi i…

In Libya, a Retired General Makes a Move

Members and vehicles of the Al Qaqa brigade from Zentan get ready to vacate the premises of their Tripoli quarter on November 21, 2013.(MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The May 18 assault on parliamentary facilities by the Zentan-based Al Qaqa and Sawaaq brigades has left Tripoli in an uneasy stalemate, with Libya's many political, regional and militia leaders scrambling to assess their options. In solidarity with retired Gen. Khalifa Hifter's attempts to oust radical Islamist elements from the eastern city of Benghazi earlier in the week, the Zentan militia sought to arrest politicians affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and block their participation in government. The push by fighters from Zentan into Tripoli and Hifter's own incursion into Benghazi have been inconclusive; for now, neither Hifter's forces nor militias willing to align with him are in control of either of Libya's key urban centers. But with the future of the transitional government, the Ge…

In Thailand, Martial Law Could Stoke Tensions

Analysis


The Thai army declared martial law May 20. Details are scarce at the moment, but media reports indicate that soldiers have deployed to strategic locations throughout Bangkok and seized at least one television station. Earlier in the day, Thai army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha had warned troops to be on high alert for continued violence after a series of political intimidation attacks in Bangkok, threats from rival protest groups (which had reportedly moved into closer vicinity to each other and threatened to raise conflict in the streets), rumors of rogue movements by the 2nd Infantry Division in Prachinburi, and even claims that a recent spate of bombings in the restive deep south had occurred to take advantage of the lack of clear authority in Bangkok.

The martial law order follows nearly two weeks of heightened uncertainty after the Constitutional Court ruled to remove former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and several members of her Cabinet from office. Since that time, …