Last Tuesday, during a call with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, President Obama outlined a mixed, but nonetheless significant shift in U.S. policy towards Egypt.
On the one hand, Obama released [the weapons systems—12 F-16 jets, 20 Harpoon missiles, and as many as 125 Abrams “tank kits”—that had been withheld from Egypt since October 2013. But on the other hand, Obama ended the policy of cash-flow financing, which enabled Egypt to use future aid to buy weapons on credit–a benefit that only Israel now enjoys.
Last week, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan signed a landmark “Declaration of Principles” on the development of the Nile, provisionally defusing years of tensions between the three riparian nations over their respective rights to the river’s vital waters. Yet until the specifics are hammered out in more detail, the future sustainability of this contentious basin remains unclear.
The formation of a unified Arab military force capable of intervening in regional crises is facing some difficulties that threaten this idea with being shelved altogether. According to Egyptian official statements, the project is in the process of planning and its final shape will be ready on paper in four months. But the Saudis are moving in a slightly different direction. They are holding a military exercise with elite forces from Pakistan at a military base in the Southwest of the Kingdom, and they have already drafted an agreement with Islamabad on the limits and command structure of a joint rapid deployment defensive force to be stationed on Saudi territories close to border with Yemen. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called on April 4 for a joint session of Pakistan’s parliament to decide whether to join the Saudi-led military coalition. However, Riyadh is keeping the option of the unified Arab force opened—albeit half-heartedly.
The tragedy did not begin with Isis. A hundred years on from the Armenian genocide, and a Christian minority is again suffering
One summer's day in 1990, I walked into a beautiful Crusader chapel in Keserwan, a gentle mountainside north of Beirut, where an old Catholic Maronite priest pointed to a Byzantine mosaic of – I think – Saint John. What he wanted to show me was the holy man's eyes. They had been stabbed out of the mosaic by a sword or lance at some point in antiquity. 'The Muslims did this,' the priest said.
“There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip,” goes the old English proverb. Something seemingly resolved and certain in fact is neither. If no such expression exists in Farsi, I predict one soon will.