Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

At a Glance

Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

29 May 2014

Egypt, the most populous country in the Middle East and North Africa, went to the polls this week with provisional results showing a crushing win for Field Marshall Sisi amid an ongoing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai, and a steeply declining economy. We look at various aspects of the election and the situation facing the new President in a special section this week.

Top Stories

Egypt: The Sinai peninsular has become a hotbed of jihadi groups since the Egyptian revolution of 2011, and failure to deal with them could destabilise the country and the region, says Peter Welby.

Lebanon: Hizbullah's contribution to the region's zero-sum sectarianism will make the movement vulnerable, suggests International Crisis Group, and the group will be transformed as much as their presence in Syria is transformational.

Egypt Election

While the majority of Egypt's Christians support Sisi, the views of Christians are more diverse than they have ever been, their capacity to make their own political decisions has grown too, reports Jayson Casper.

The crackdown on the Sinai insurgency is constraining jihadis, but also restricting economic opportunity for residents, argue Mohannad Sabry and David Kenner. To avoid storing up trouble for the future, solving the problem will take more than military measures.

If Egypt continues its democratic experiment, states Shadi Hamid, the Muslim Brotherhood will be back. Polls show that their worldview has popular support, and democracy can only force Islamist movements to the political centre if there is a centre to move to.

Field Marshall Sisi has been reticent about his political beliefs, says Robert Springborg, but leaked interviews and conversations show him to be an Islamist, as convinced as the Muslim Brotherhood on the principles of Islamic government.

Middle East and North Africa

Libya: Clashes between the forces of General Haftar's "Operation Dignity", and parliament-alligned Islamist militias have continued. The Economist profiles Haftar, but suggests that many of his backers support the campaign but not the man.  

Yemen: From the government's propaganda war against al-Qaeda, argues Iona Craig, it would seem that there are no civilians in the conflict zone, but covering up civilian casualties has long been a hallmark of Yemen's campaign.

Iraq: The process of forming a government continues after the election results, and this week the Institute for the Study of War takes stock, looking at the latest developments and statements by the political groups.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central African Republic: As further lives are lost in an attack on a church in Bangui, some extraordinary images have emerged, captured by Peter Biro at Bangui Airport. Meanwhile African Arguments looks at the strain that peacekeeping forces are under.

Somalia: The attack on the Somali Parliament this week by Al Shabaab highlights again the work that still needs to be done by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to push ahead with numerous reforms, including security and state-building, writes Yusuf Hassan

East and South East Asia

China: After recent attacks in Xinjiang, Gardner Bovingdon looks at the discontent of the ethnic Uighur community and the Diplomat has an interesting take on the reporting of the attacks and attempts to unravel the government strategy.

Central and South Asia

Pakistan: In an interesting development, a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TPP) has separated from the group and Asad Hashim takes a look at what this means for the ongoing peace process with the government.

Pakistan/ India: With the Pakistani Prime Minister attending the inauguration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Husain Haqqani reminds us of the history and the complex negotiations between the two countries but hopes that renewed dialogue will ensue.


Belgium: The attack on a Jewish Museum in Brussels earlier this week was shocking, but David Meyer writes that the use of anti-semitic language has been growing, particularly in the capital, and the source of the abuse is more complex than many believe.


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