December 6 to 10, 2010

– Maghreb free trade zone: the reservations of Algeria (Zone maghrébine de libre échange : les réserves de l’Algérie ) (9/12/2010) – El Watan

Algeria has expressed reservations about joining the Maghreb free trade area to be launched in 2011. The proposal to extend the agreement on the free movement of persons has not been welcomed by the country. The Algerian side has proposed to limit the project to the free trade zone while imposing a negative list of products that would not be affected by this exchange to protect its industry.

– Sarkozy and Assad, a criticized Syrian-French friendship (Sarkozy et Assad, une amitié franco-syrienne contestée ) (9/12/2010) – France 24

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, currently on an official visit to France, was received by French President to discuss the situation in the Middle East and Syria’s role in resolving regional problems. However, according to a diplomatic cable revealed by Wikileaks, the Franco-Syrian relations are criticized by the United States. The US denounce Syria’s links with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran and consider the state cannot be a partner in peace.

– Turkey and Israel inaugurate « diplomacy of fire » (La Turquie et Israël étrennent la «diplomatie du feu» ) (9/12/2010) – Le Figaro

The sending of two Turkish Canadair to fight against the fire of Mount Caramel in Israel helped to reactivate diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel, that had been stopped since the Israeli assault against a flotilla of aid for Gaza had caused nine Turkish victims. Indeed, negotiations were held in Geneva to discuss ways of normalizing relations. The Turkish conditions cover compensation for families of victims and the apologies by Israel. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has relaxed its requirements by abandoning the condition of lifting the blockade of Gaza.

– Israel to allow exports from Gaza Strip to boost local businesses(8/12/2010) – The Guardian

In response to international pressure, Israel decided to allow exports from the Gaza Strip to boost local businesses and revive Gazan economy harmed by the blockade. The first phase will cover agricultural products, furniture, textiles and ceramics. However, restrictions on imports of construction equipment will not be alleviated.

– Cables Belie Gulf States’ Backing for Strikes on Iran (6/12/2010) – IPSNews

Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe challenge the prevailing interpretation of the diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks on support of the Gulf’s Arab leaders to preventive strikes on Iran. According to them, this reading was initiated by an article in The New York Times using the phrase of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urging the U.S. to « cut off the head of the snake”, referring to Iran. But a fair reading of the cables reveals the fear of the Arab Gulf states, particularly Kuwait and the UAE, of the impact of such strikes on their countries.