January 3 to January 7, 2011

– After the attack, Alexandria fears the blaze (Après l’attentat, Alexandrie craint l’embrasement)
02/01/2011 – Jeune Afrique

Egypt fears an escalation of sectarian tensions after the bombing that killed 21 people at a Coptic church in Alexandria. Authorities treat the attack as an attempt to destabilize the country and focus on the track of al-Qaida. Indeed, an Iraqi organization claiming to be al-Qaida had uttered two months ago specific threats against the Christians of Egypt.

– Middle East after the bombing of Alexandria (Le Proche-Orient après l’attentat d’Alexandrie)
04/01/2011 – Le Monde diplomatique

From the attack against Coptic Christians in Alexandria, the author attempts an analysis of the situation of Christians of the East and the various reactions to the attack. Christians are an integral part of Arab societies. These are the failure of Arab nationalism and the unpopularity of autocratic regimes in place that led to community fold and emergence of radical opposition groups. But one must keep in mind that the boundaries between communities are not as rigid as one might think and there are still many links between them.
The Egyptian case is complex because the regime seeks Muslim legitimacy and exploits sectarian tensions to his advantage.
However, if the treatment of religious tension by the Egyptian regime may seem suspicious, it is the same vision that tends to present the West as the defender of Christian minorities in the East. Indeed, this approach may recall the Western political interference in the Middle East in the 19th and 20th century. In addition, this Western attitude is risky for the minorities themselves, which can be perceived in their country as agents of the West and this can exacerbate tensions. Moreover, some in the West, like the French deputy Bernard Carayon, tries to import the conflict in Europe forcing European Muslims to take a position as if they were partly responsible, by their religious convictions, of the atrocities against Christian minorities.

– Egypt’s ailing regime now cares only for its own survival
04/01/2011 – Guardian

For the author of this article, tensions between Muslims and Copts are only one aspect of political and social unrest that will worsen unless an effective and democratic state is established. Actually, the system uses much of its resources to ensure its survival against a growing dissent and became unable to protect its own citizens, to ensure their rights are respected and guarantee their welfare. It ranks among failed states which are distancing themselves from their people to backup their interests. And this deficiency increases the risk of religious tensions. Hence, the fight for the « Coptic issue », according to this reasoning, should be part of a broader struggle for the liberation of the Egyptian people of the autocratic and failing regime of Mubarak.

– Brussels expressed reservations about the erection of a wall at the Greek-Turkish border (Réserves de Bruxelles au projet de mur à la frontière gréco-turque)
03/01/2011 – La Libre

Greece announced on 1 January 2011 its intention to erect a fence on 12.5 kilometers of its border with Turkey to curb illegal migration flows that pass through Turkey, in February 2011, at the end of the 200 border guards from European agency Frontex’s mission. But Brussels has expressed reservations about this project deemed unfit to solve the problem structurally and favors negotiation with transit and origin countries.

– Israel uncovers a vast natural gas field (Israël met au jour un vaste gisement de gaz naturel)
30/12/2010 – Le Monde

The discovery of a natural gas field off the coast of Israel, Leviathan, would allow the country to become exporter and to reduce its energy dependence. The volume of the field is estimated at 450 billion m3, which would make it the first gas field operated by Israel. But its operation is not expected until 2017, partly because of disputes over maritime borders with Lebanon and Turkey, who consider they have their say.

– In Algeria, soaring food prices cause riots (En Algérie, la flambée des prix des denrées alimentaires provoque des émeutes)
06/01/2011 – RFI

Violent riots broke out in Algeria, particularly in Algiers and its environs and the central city of Oran, 4 and 5 January 2011. They are motivated by the sudden surge in prices of certain foodstuffs. Mustapha Benbada, the trade minister has promised action.