December 5 to 9, 2011

–          Israel fears the force of Arab Spring power shift – The Independent –  07/12/2011

With Islamists poised to take power in Egypt, Israel is watching its neighbour with trepidation, fearful of the consequences for a three-decades-old peace accord. Preliminary results put the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties ahead of their liberal and secular rivals, radically altering the political landscape in the most populous Arab nation and prompting fears of an Islamist revival on Israel’s border. Israël fears the Muslim Brotherhood, one of its outspoken critics, could review a 1979 peace accord deemed as vital for Middle East stability and bolster Hamas, which governs Gaza and is deemed a terrorist group by Israël. Slow to welcome the Arab Spring, Israel was almost alone among Western democracies in backing Mr Mubarak amid mass protests.

–          Generals want say in Egypt’s constitution committee – Financial Times – 07/12/2011

Egypt’s military rulers say they want to have a say in the selection of a committee charged with drafting a new constitution to ensure that all sections of society are represented. Under rules approved by a referendum earlier this year, the country’s elected parliament is responsible for choosing a panel of 100 people to draft the constitution. The generals’ insistence on a role is likely to place them on a collision course with Islamist parties that are on track to dominate the coming parliament, and who do not want any curbs on the assembly’s powers. Many Egyptians fear that the Islamists will draw up a charter which reflects their religious views and would restrict personal freedoms. But there are also fears that the generals would try to secure a political role beyond the transition to elected rule which should end in July after a new president has been voted in.

–          Assad seeks to evade responsibility for killings in Syria – Middle East Online – 07/12/2011

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denies he is responsible for the killing of thousands of protesters, telling a US reporter he was not in charge of the forces behind the crackdown, the network said Tuesday. In a rare interview, Assad spoke Monday to ABC News veteran journalist Barbara Walters in a bid to defend himself amid growing global condemnation of the nine-month-old crackdown which the UN says has killed 4,000 people.Syria has come under growing pressure from the United States, European Union, Arab League and non-Arab Turkey to stop the violence. The Arab League has threatened to impose new sanctions unless Syria lets in monitors. In a letter late Sunday, Assad’s regime said it will allow monitors but only if conditions are met.

–          A new government for Yemen ( Un nouveau gouvernement pour le Yémen) – Le Monde – 07/12/2011

The Yemeni government of national entente, led by the opposition under a plan to end the crisis, was formed Wednesday, said the designated Prime minister-, Mohamed Basindawa. The new government will be sworn in by Vice President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in charge of the interim period. Under this agreement, Mr. Hadi also called an early presidential election for February 21, 2012, at the end of the transition period.

–          Tunisian « Mini-Constitution »: why it gets stuck ( « Mini-Constitution » tunisienne : pourquoi ça coince ) – Jeune Afrique – 07/12/2011

Fifteen days after the start of the work of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) after the election of October 23, the Second Republic of Tunisia is still run by a head of state and a prime minister from the First Republic. The triumvirate winner of the poll – the Islamist party Ennahdha and two left parties, the Congress for the Republic (CFR) and Ettakatol – still do not govern. The main cause of this delay is due to friction within the triumvirate and the NCA about a bill on the ‘small constitution « organizing the functioning of government until the entry into force of a new constitution, in about a year. The first point of disagreement: the distribution of power within the executive. Second point of dissesion: the majority required ultimately to adopt the(large) Constitution. The triumvirate (which has 67% of the vote) proposes a simple majority, the minority parties prefer the two-thirds.