|—||Khaled Abu Bakr, a member of the International Union of Lawyers and the representative of several families of victims during the trial of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. He told Al-Monitor that “history will be a witness to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s insistence to hold a referendum while thousands of judges continue to boycott and refuse to have any sort of relation with such a process.” Read Mohannad Sabry’s full report for Al-Monitor.|
Democratic and Republican-aligned groups offered conflicting analysis and spin Wednesday to describe how a newly re-elected President Obama fared among the Jewish American electorate in Tuesday’s polls, after a year in which tens of millions of dollars were spent in Republican ad campaigns depicting Obama as having “thrown [Israel] under the bus,” as Mitt Romney put it in September. Read Laura Rozen’s analysis at Al-Monitor.
In honor of election day, here’s a recap of some of Al-Monitor’s most interesting Middle East-themed stories to emerge of the 2012 presidential campaign season.
Handling the Arab Spring:
- As the U.S. reeled from the Benghazi embassy attacks, Bruce Riedel argued that a lot is at stake: the Arab Spring has left American diplomacy towards the region in a precarious state. Riedel says that will require an agile and sophisticated policy from the U.S.: “Today is different. Dictators in three counties have been toppled (Tunisia, Egypt and Libya), a fourth has lost his presidency although he won’t leave the capital (Yemen), a fifth has survived due only to foreign intervention and occupation (Bahrain) and a sixth is fighting a brutal civil war to hold onto power (Syria). Trouble is brewing elsewhere — in Jordan, Algeria and even Saudi Arabia.”
The Netanyahu Kerfuffle:
- Israeli papers covered the widespread perception that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was effectively stumping for Romney, with Maariv arguing on more than one occasion that Netanyahu needed to be careful how he played his cards. Yedioth Ahronoth reported that a pro-Romney PAC even used a Netanyahu speech in a Florida campaign ad.
- Al-Monitor recruited experts to analyze the often-disappointing foreign-policy debate between Romney and Obama. Alon Pinkas thought that, given the candidates’ apparent similarities amidst the platitudes, “Mitt Romney would make a good vice president in a Barack Obama administration”. Trita Parsi said Iran posed the clearest differences between the two candidates — with signs that Obama’s policy was actually closest to Bush’s. Shibley Telhami focused on the candidates’ attempts to outdo each other on their love of Israel, but argued that it might not help either of them very much. Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi stepped beyond Romney’s geography gaffe (he said that Iran is Syria’s “route to the sea) to say that most people in the region aren’t actually all that interested in the outcome.
The region weighs in:
- They may not be able to vote, but Al-Monitor has translated a range of opinions on the U.S. election from our Middle East media partners. A writer for Al-Masry Al-Youm (Egypt) who likened Romney to George W. Bush in terms of having a neocon foreign policy. Our Iran Pulse blogger, who covers the Iranian press for Al-Monitor every weekday, reported today that a prominent Iranian Reformist newspaper predicted an Obama victory. In an original piece for Al-Monitor, Paul Salem of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut said that the differences between the candidates could have profound impacts on the region, with Romney appointing a more hawkish foreign-policy team.
The Arab-American vote:
- Today, many of the U.S.’s 4 million Arab-Americans will cast their votes — with the population heavily concentrated in swing-states including Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Polls in the weeks leading up to the election had suggested a 52% to 28% lead by Obama in the Arab-American demographic — a lower margin than the 67% to 28% lead Obama held over John McCain among Arab Americans in 2008.
Arab-Americans are poised to play a critical role in the US presidential election. Numbering about 4 million, they’re heavily concentrated in several battleground states — including Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia — where every vote will count in a race that many consider too close to call. Read more about how they’re likely to vote in Vivian Salama’s analysis for Al-Monitor.
Alan Dershowitz, telling our Israeli news partner Yedioth Ahronoth about his campaign to convince America’s Jewish population to vote for Obama. He said the most important issue was the Supreme Court:
Al-Monitor brings you two opposing views on the tricky issue of whether U.S.-led sanctions will get the Iranian regime to compromise:
- Meir Javedanfar argues that sanctions will force Iran to accede to Western demands on its nuclear program, in large part because Khamenei hasn’t managed to make the nuclear matter a strong nationalist issue for most Iranians.
- Reza Sanati responds that instead of compromise, the Western negotiating tack is likely to exacerbate the confrontation with Khamenei, partly because many analysts have failed to understand exactly how sanctions affect the day to day economy of Iran.
Above, an unfamiliar scene unfolded on the streets of Kuwait this week — as large crowds of protesters gathered to denounce the government’s decision to amend the electoral law. The crowd, which has been estimated between 100,000 and 200,000, marked the largest demonstration in Kuwait’s history. Read more from our Lebanese partner As-Safir.
Rumors have swirled throughout Iran of a comeback by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s former president and grand man of politics, who many expect to run in the next presidential election. But his chances are slimmer than the speculation suggests, Shaul Bakhash writes in today’s Al-Monitor.
Some Iraqi politicians will boycott meetings of parliament to protest the exclusion of women on Iraq’s election authority body, reports Omar Sattar in one of our Arab media partners,Al-Hayat. Safiya Suheil, an independent member of parliament, toldAl-Hayat:
Women are being marginalized to a large extent in the Iraqi political life, in general, and in all the legislative, executive and judicial institutions, in particular….We demand that women be allocated a seat in the IHEC and other institutions, and that is in accordance with the legal quota for female participation in parliament, which is at least 25%.
Hosting Morsi’s First Foreign Trip Is a Coup for Saudi Arabia
So why does currying favor with the new Egypt matter so much to the Islamic Republic? And in choosing to prioritize a visit to the Saudi Kingdom, has President Morsi delivered a snub to Iran? Or has he merely embraced the reality that consolidating his tenuous grip on power requires influential supporters?
Read on: http://almon.co/1kq
Who really has the power in Egypt?
Amid the fanfare and celebration over Mohammad Morsi’s presidential victory, many questions remain. Foremost is: how much power will he really have? Marlene Khalife speculates on Morsi’s real role as Egyptian president under the all-powerful SCAF.
Publisher: As-Safir (Lebanon)