Edito 2011

  • 2011122323/12/2011
    2011, a transitional year
    Looking back over the year 2011 confirms that it will certainly remain etched in the annals in the same way than has been the pivotal year 1989. While we cannot yet talk about real paradigm shift in the Arab world, there is no doubt the deal has changed in the region. We will not return to the events as such, that our editorials throughout the years have tried to relate and comment. We will try to assess this year and its consequences not only for the region, but also for the relations between Europe and the Mediterranean.
  • 2011121616/12/2011
    The first faltering steps of the Tunisian democracy
    The fledgling Tunisian democracy is taking its first steps under the watchful eye of the Tunisians, weary from decades of stagnation and in need for real change. The path to democracy is not without pitfalls. The battle for a social project frontally opposes seculars to Islamists, eager democrats to the supporters of the consensus. After adopting a "little constitution" last week, members of the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia come to choose a new president, Marzouki and a new head of government, Hamadi Jebali, has been appointed. The adoption of the mini-constitution by the Constituent Assembly, after the polls on October 23, has not been smooth and the choice of Marzouki has been severely criticized.
  • 2011120909/12/2011
    The citizen, driver of changes in the Mediterranean?
    From December 1 to 4 was held in Tunis the second Mediterranean Citizens' Assembly . The Mediterranean Citizens' Assembly (MCA) is an independent and autonomous initiative which aims to be a space for dialogue, a meeting place where we practice citizens’diplomacy between equal people, regardless cultural, religious or national diversity.
  • 2011112626/11/2011
    The Egyptian revolution: from Mubarak to Tantawi.
    Three days before the first post-Mubarak elections, Egyptians have not finished making their revolution. Their original goal, El-Karama -dignity - has still not been reached and now seems far away. While Tahrir Square is always packed for a week and that the clashes between protesters and security forces raged in Cairo, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has appointed a man of the old regime as Prime Minister, Kamal El-Ganzouri. A former Mubarak Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999, El-Ganzouri is a reassuring choice for Egyptian generals who cling to their privileges, with all their might. The apparent concessions granted to the Egyptian people by Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the SCAF do not seem to have convinced the protesters.
  • 2011111818/11/2011
    To witness the revolt in Syria, a dangerous action for NGOs
    Following the failure of the plan to end the crisis of the Arab League, the figures of victims of the Syrian revolution continue to come out in the media. Sébastien Boussois comes back on the role of international and Syrian NGOs in accounting for these victims. Besides the remote work made by large structures, small ad hoc structures have been formed to establish the facts and let the world know the atrocities of the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
  • 2011110404/11/2011
    Israelis and Palestinians struggling between unilateralism and multilateralism
    For several weeks now, the events are linked and are not alike in Israel and the Palestinian territories. After years of bogged down of peace negotiations and the freezing of dialogue, the colonization of Palestinian territories by Israel did not stop. Palestine, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, has decided to make of unilateral actions its new warhorse and diplomatic strategy. The Palestinian application for membership to the United Nations last September, strongly condemned by Israel, is still in talks and to date there is no draft resolution discussion. Besides, while the Palestinians need the support of two members of the Security Council to win (out of nine), Israel calls the Palestinians to get back to the negotiation table. Obviously, the threat of a U.S. veto would destroy any positive prospect.
  • 2011102828/10/2011
    Sharia and the West: between prejudice and legitimate concerns
    Sharia, a word that has troubled Western capital cities, raised concerns among public opinion and awoke the regular Islamophobic diatribes of Islam. Literally, the Sharia is the way, the common thread in life, rather than being just the Islamic law, it includes the precepts of the Koran, the Sunna (the Prophet's tradition) and it is supposed to govern personal and family status as well as the criminal and public laws.
  • 2011102121/10/2011
    Gaddafi has definitely lost the game
    The Libyan National Transition Council has officially announced the death of Muammar Gaddafi and that of his son Mootassem, Thursday, October 20. The whimsical dictator, sometimes hated, sometimes acclaimed, who became completely out of control – even crazy – by 42 years of absolute power, has definitely lost the game, apparently shot at the outlet of a sewer where he was hiding after the attack of his convoy by. Although the circumstances of his death remain unclear, the end of Gaddafi is pathetic. All embassies are in turmoil after the announcement and many of them, including the United States, welcomed the news. However, we can ask ourselves whether it is always wise to welcome the death of a man, whoever he is or whatever the atrocities he committed, rather than to regret that it could not be tried before an international court - a trial in Libya would have indeed been a travesty of justice of the victors.
  • 2011101414/10/2011
    Egypt: to save the gains of the revolution
    Violence against a demonstration of the Coptic community in Cairo last Sunday is a sign of the dangers that loom over the young democracy under construction. Fruit of a policy deliberately led by the supporters of the old regime, the clashes are helping to legitimize the continuation of the emergency law, so all power to the military. In this fragile process of transition, the European Union and its Member States have an important role to lead in support of the revolution’s gains.
  • 2011100707/10/2011
    Foiled ambitions of the Syrian revolution
    More than ten years ago, Bashar al-Assad crushed with extreme violence hopes for liberalization of society, led by Syrian intellectuals that emerged after the death of his father, Hafez Al-Assad. The Damascus Spring marked the first premise of the revival of the Syrian people. Today, the new Syrian spring, as part of the Arab spring, has a different scale, insomuch that hushing up it is not an option. The Syrian crisis is just as complex as frustrating for the international community. However, it seems that the revolution in Syria is at a significant turning point.
  • 2011093030/09/2011
    Yemen on the road to chaos
    More than 1,500 people have died since the beginning of popular protests in January in Yemen, a country where power has faced  for many years military rebellions. It seems important to come back on the last events in order to understand the current situation and the dangers facing the country. As a reminder, since the...
  • 2011092323/09/2011
    Palestine at the UN : the cards are on the table
    Mahmoud Abbas just finished his speech , and received a standing ovation from the vast majority of the UN General Assembly. The Palestinian leader has asked the full membership of Palestine within the organization. But yet, ite missa est. The U.S. veto will fall sooner or later, excluding the accession of a State of Palestine to the United Nations. In addition to the basic question posed by the Palestinian initiative, the reactions to this approach will in fact reveal the true face of Western policies in the Middle East.
  • 2011091616/09/2011
    Turkish foreign policy: a model for Europe?
    On tour in countries that have recently reversed their respective leaders, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has seen the popularity of Turkey and its political and economic model in these countries. The recent strong stance of Turkish Prime Minister vis-à-vis the Jewish state are of course no stranger to this popularity. Europeans, despite the warm welcome received by Messrs. Cameron and Sarkozy in Libya, seem less able to influence the Mediterranean as Turkey does.
  • 2011090909/09/2011
    Arab revolutions: A window of opportunity to use for women
    The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) held this Wednesday, Sept. 7 a dinner on the theme of women's political participation and democratic transformation process in North Africa. Aside from the fact that none of the speakers were of North African origin, their interventions have found some interesting points about the wider subject of Arab revolution and the window of opportunity they represent to strengthen the role of women in society. However, it is an opportunity not to be missed.
  • 2011090202/09/2011
    To recognize the Palestinian state
    The Gymnich, or informal meeting of EU foreign ministers, held these 2nd and 3rd September in Sopot in Poland will devote most of his discussions on the current events in the Arab world, particularly regarding the Middle East peace process.
  • 2011082626/08/2011
    The end of the Gaddafi era: towards democracy in Libya?
    The storm continues to blow for Arab dictators. After the fall of Ben Ali and Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, the "Brother Leader" is no longer the master of Tripoli. Although he is still at large, he keeps still some capacity for harm in the conflict that has already killed more than 20,000. After a reign of 42 years marked by inconsistency and folly, a new era for the Libyan people arises. While the Europeans are already positioning themselves for the country's reconstruction and exploitation of hydrocarbons, one may question the possibility that one day Libya becomes a democracy.
  • 2011081919/08/2011
    Syria: the tide is turning. What about the future?
    Europeans and Americans all called on Syrian President to resign last night. On the web a campaign has also being launched this Friday afternoon to ask Bashar al Assad to leave his post (# TellBashar2Go). On Friday, the protests have flared up. And unfortunately, it is the same as for the repression by the regime, which has not much left to lose. Will we assist the departure of Assad this weekend? The wind seems in any case to have finally turned for the Syrian regime in place. Let’s take a glance at the future prospects for Syria.
  • 2011081212/08/2011
    And settlements continue…
    In the midst of nationwide protests against the high costs of living in which 300,000 protestors have taken to the streets over the past few days, the Israeli interior minister Eli Yishai has given official approval for the building of 1,600 new settlements in East Jerusalem, while another 2,700 are expected to get approbation in the coming days. The Israeli government insists that these new housing projects in Ramat Shlomo, Givat Hamatos and Pisgat Zeev are necessary in order to address housing shortages in Israel.
  • 2011072929/07/2011
    Already 3000 people missing
    According to Human Rights Watch, nearly 3,000 opponents and demonstrators arrested in Syria have already disappeared. To this figure that gives a chilling, one must add the 1,500 deaths and 12,000 arrests since the start of the protests in March. These figures give an overview of the terrible and violent repression of the regime against the legitimate demands of the protesters.
  • 2011072222/07/2011
    The Libyan Deadlock.
    The situation in Libya does not seem to be showing signs of improvement. While Western forces continue to push for a negotiated outcome to avoid a recrudescence of violence as rebel forces are knocking threateningly on Tripoli’s door, Gaddafi has insisted that he will not go down without a fight. Rebel forces have regained momentum in their quest for Tripoli and the strategic oil installations of Brega. It is difficult to say how long will be needed for rebel fighters to reach the Libyan capital, but the confidence of rebel fighters is growing. Rebel leaders in Misrata firmly believe that with increased logistical support from Western forces, the gates to Tripoli, Gaddafi’s last stronghold, could be broken in the coming days.
  • 2011071515/07/2011
    Egyptians get impatient
    Despite recent concessions and promises made recently by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (AFSC), which ruled the country since the departure of Mr. Mubarak, a new demonstration of the Egyptian population will take place this Friday on Tahrir Square.
  • 2011070808/07/2011
    The EU does not assume
    In recent days, two citizens' actions have brought the Palestinian issue to the front of the news. A second fleet of Liberty was first tried to leap into Gaza to break the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian population. Then, this Friday July, 8, 600 activists have decided to fly together to Tel Aviv to call attention to the restrictions on access imposed by Israel on the rest of the Palestinian territory, that is to say East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Far from finding support from the EU, these actions have only met a disturbing silence, even clear brakes.
  • 2011070101/07/2011
    New Moroccan constitution: the beginning or the end of reforms?
    Today, Moroccans are asked to vote on the draft constitutional reform proposed by King Mohamed VI. Although the vote result does little doubt - yes prevails widely among analysts of each side -, will this reform will start or end of the opening of the King to change? The question whether the proposed reform appeases tensions in Morocco or the contrary will strengthen it is therefore raised.
  • 2011062424/06/2011
    A complex crisis
    The increasing tension at the Turkish-Syrian border let us remember the potential danger of the current situation in Syria for the region. Compared to all previous revolutions, the uprising of the Syrian people is clearly the one with the highest risk of regional spread. This risk was clearly established by the U.S. Secretary of State, in her address to the press yesterday.
  • 2011061717/06/2011
    Arab regional integration or counter-revolution?
    Since its creation in 1981, the Gulf Cooperation Council has proven an extremely closed club of 6 oil-rich Gulf States, dedicated to economic and political integration in the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen, the region’s weak link both economically and politically despite its energy potential and its geo-strategic location in the South of the Peninsula on the Gulf of Aden, has been knocking on the Council’s door for over a decade but has seen its application systematically turned down. A harsh reality not set to change? It looks that way; Membership to any exclusive club has always been a hard-earned battle.
  • 2011061010/06/2011
    To drive to protest
    Not later than yesterday, six Saudi women were temporarily arrested in Riyadh because they dared to drive despite the ban in the Kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, women are indeed not allowed to drive in towns. The video put on Youtube last May 21 of Manal Al-Sharif a Saudi women of 32 years old calling women holding a international driving license to take the wheel on June 17 in protest and her subsequent arrest attracted once again the media attention on women's rights in Saudi Arabia.
  • 2011052727/05/2011
    It remains to convince
    These past few months, the major powers seemed abashed in front of the revolutions taking place in the Arab world. The extreme caution taken in withdrawing their support from dictators as Mubarak and Ben Ali brought them a severe loss of credibility in an area where it was already not very high. The four and a half months that passed since the fall of the Tunisian leader finally allowed the powerful of this world to get their senses back. Announcements of policy changes and support to democratization have followed each other these past two weeks ... Without convincing.
  • 2011052020/05/2011
    Lebanon: No to sectarianism!
    An event has been completely ignored by European media, this Sunday, May 15, 2011. In Beirut, in the wake of protests in the Arab world, a young and progressive crowd rushed in the streets of Beirut to join the second edition of the Lebanese Laique Pride. This citizens' movement launched in 2010 aims to raise awareness about the archaic political system of Lebanon and its sectarian excesses and claims the gradual establishment of a secular Lebanon where all citizens would be equal regardless of their religion or gender. This year, organizers chose to focus their claims on the need for adoption of a Civil Code, as well as the necessary vote of a legislation protecting women from domestic violence, initiated by NGO Kafa but made difficult by the religious taboo that weighs on the subject.
  • 2011051313/05/2011
    The Arab spring: tormenter of European integration?
    Set up in 1985 as one of the major steps forward for European integration, the Schengen Agreement allows individuals to travel freely throughout a large number of EU Member States. The ‘Schengen area’ currently regroups 25 EU Member States and is, to this day, one of the main successes of the European Project. However, the future of this leading European initiative is bleak: European Member States have chosen to revise, to everyone’s surprise, the limits of human mobility into and within the EU set out by the Schengen Agreement.
  • 2011050606/05/2011
    After bin Laden, a safer and fairer world ?
    The announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, on Monday, May 2, 2011, provoked unanimous reactions in the Western world. Scenes of jubilation were observed in the United States. The European heads of state, meanwhile, expressed their relief in unison that the world is rid of a major threat to global security. If you believe their statements here, it seems there is nothing wrong to what may yet be called a targeted killing ; you can be assured that justice was done and the world is safer today…
  • 2011050202/05/2011
    The uncertain future of Syria
    This last week saw the revolt in Syria accelerate. The Syrian people legitimately demand political reforms after 48 years of Baath Party rule. As a reminder, this party, dominated by the Alawite minority which resulted in Bashar al-Assad but we do not really know the composition of its management or the program, has put the country under supervision for 48 years. The protests started at Deraa, could not be contained by the power and have now spread throughout the country. Nobody can predict the time for the events.
  • 2011042222/04/2011
    The implications of recognizing a Palestinian State
    While Mahmoud Abbas was received Thursday by his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, the debate on the international recognition of a State of Palestine resumed. The spokesman of France to the United Nations said yesterday that the issue was regularly discussed within the European institutions, and many are the ones who point to the next General Assembly of the United Nations as a possible deadline. However while the number of supporters of this initiative is increasing, the question of the relevance of this recognition must still be asked.
  • 2011041515/04/2011
    Get out Gaddafi!
    It is very difficult nowadays to predict the length as the outcome of the Libyan crisis. On the ground, the military situation remains very uncertain and the risks of a quagmire is becoming more real. On the international scene, the actors involved have struggled to agree at their meeting in Doha on possible military options in the framework of Security Council of the United Nations’ 1973 resolution to end the crisis.
  • 2011040808/04/2011
    Lampedusa refugees: a test for European solidarity
    In a New York Times article published back in 2004, Graham Watson, British Member of the European Parliament, considered the situation of refugees arriving in Lampedusa a real humanist challenge for the EU, arguing that human rights, deemed inherent to the fundamental values of Europe, should not be considered any different for those beyond our borders. This represents a real challenge for today's EU.
  • 2011040101/04/2011
    Is it the turn of Syria ?
      Few are those who would have bet on the emergence of a Syrian citizen movement for change. The brutality of the regime and its security apparatus, the terror they cause forced the Syrians (like Tunisians under Ben Ali) to silence. Everyone in Syria remembers how Hafez al-Assad crushed the revolt of the Muslim Brotherhood...
  • 2011032525/03/2011
    EU-GCC Free Trade Agreement: an Answer to Arab Frustrations?
      In 2007, Peter Mandelson, then EU Trade Commissioner, gave a speech at the Jeddah Economic Forum, in which he underlined the importance of setting up the first ever region-to-region Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to provide for greater economic diversification of the Gulf countries. Two...
  • 2011031818/03/2011
    In international relations, there is no friends, only interests!
    The UN Security Council voted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 resolution 1973. This implies the possibility of air strikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery and the imposition of a no-fly zone. Having supported and sold weapons to the Libyan dictator, the Western powers now turn their jackets and instrumentalize the emotion caused by the Libyan deads to protect their own interests.
  • 2011031111/03/2011
    Arab women make their revolution
    On the occasion of International Women’s Day, this Tuesday, March 8, 2011, we wanted to discuss the role of women in the Arab revolutions and celebrate the way they shook misconceptions about Arab women by their courage and perseverance. Women played a crucial role alongside men in the movements that led to the overthrow of...
  • 2011030404/03/2011
    In Algeria, the revolutionary process is struggling to start
    While the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have pushed their leaders to leave power and while the people of Libya is ready to face the madness of Kadhafi to see him go, popular revolts in Algeria, does gather only a few protesters and seem therefore not ready to lead to the same result.
  • 2011022525/02/2011
    From rogue to friend and back again
    The wave of protests sweeping across the Arab World marks a new era for the peoples’ of North Africa and the Middle East, which have proven to the world that peaceful revolutions are bringing about real change in a region infamous for its instability and unrest. These movements have slowly but surely been welcomed by the EU, its Member States and other Western powers.
  • 2011021818/02/2011
    Fear switches sides
    While the Egyptian people celebrates the departure of Mubarak, the winds of revolt and freedom have spread to three new countries in the Middle East. Firstly Yemen, then Libya and Bahrain. After the first squalls that swept unexpectedly Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, presidents Gaddafi, Saleh and King Al-Khalifa now find themselves caught in the storm.
  • 2011021111/02/2011
    Ma’salama Hosni!
    The victory of the Egyptian people is beautiful because it is a sign of hope, not only for other Arab countries, but also for all the other people that are living under oppression. A dictator may indeed be destitute when the people decides to take away the roots of his legitimacy. Thank you to the Egyptian people for this lesson of courage and perseverance!
  • 2011020404/02/2011
    Revolutions unpopular among rating agencies
    After degradation of the sovereign rating of Tunisia on 19 January 2011 by Moody's and that of Egypt on 31 January 2011 by the three rating agencies (Standard & Poors, Moody's and Fitch), Standard & Poor's now threatens to degrade the ratings of Algeria, Jordan and Morocco at any social uplift. Before recent events, however, the rating agencies seem not to have seen particular signs of instability or political risk in those countries.
  • 2011013131/01/2011
    The will of the Egyptian people
    A week ago nobody would have bet on the fact that Egypt could follow the example of Tunisia. Were invoked the exception of Tunisia, the huge police apparatus of the Egyptian regime, the size of the country and of its people in comparison with its sister republic, the few examples of uprisings in Egypt’s history, etc. Yet, the Egyptian people begins today its seventh day of revolt, without the momentum to weaken.
  • 2011012828/01/2011
    What is to be learned from the Palestine Papers
    On Sunday evening, the satellite channel Al Jazeera and the British newspaper The Guardian revealed some 1,600 secret documents concerning the negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. These expose some proposals made by the PA, and other inconvenient truths for the Palestinian government already lacking of legitimacy.
  • 2011012121/01/2011
    Period of political uncertainty in Lebanon
    Lebanon is currently experiencing a serious institutional crisis in a context of conflict on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) charged to try the assassins of Rafiq Hariri. The resignation of eleven members of the national unity government, from the opposition parties made up of Hezbollah and its allies, has weakened the institutions and the stability of the country. However, this crisis is not a surprise given the many subjects of disagreement that has existed within the government since its formation, the main concerning the STL.
  • 2011011414/01/2011
    Tunisia: an ambiguous French reaction
    The Tunisian regime, which has arrogated to itself throughout its reign the right to stifle all political freedoms and to cynically violate the rights of its population, still has been courted, in the name of a hypothetical fight against the advance of Islamism in North Africa and against illegal immigration, as a friendly and moderate regime by European countries, France, Spain and Italy first.
  • 2011010404/01/2011
    Tunisia: the uprising as a lever for political change?
    Since December 17, 2010, Tunisia has been experiencing an unprecedented popular uprising in a tightly controlled country, in response to Mohammed Bouazizi’s suicide, a young seller of fruits and vegetables in the town of Sidi Bouzid. His suicide, motivated by the lack of career prospects, awakened the social complaints of a large segment of the Tunisian society.