The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here -The Atlantic


“The Obama administration’s anger is “red-hot” over Israel’s settlement policies, and the Netanyahu government openly expresses contempt for Obama’s understanding of the Middle East. Profound changes in the relationship may be coming.”

People have been have been talking about the “crisis in American-Israeli” relations since Obama’s election, and it usually has not amounted to much. This time however, “a senior Obama administration official” is quoted as using a number of derogatory terms to insult Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Confession: I had to look up the term “Aspergery”.
Of course, like most diplomatic tiffs, this may get swept under the rug pretty quickly. The White House is already disputing they are the source of the insults (see: White House Distances Itself from Netanyahu ‘Chickenshit’ Comment, If, as the Atlantic article suggests, the Obama administration tables “a public, full lay-down of the administration’s vision for a two-state solution, including maps delineating Israel’s borders” based on the 1967 borders, then that will be a real crisis.

Tunisian elections bring hope in uncertain times -Washington Post


“Sunday’s elections were enormously significant precisely because they were seemingly uneventful. The turnout was unexpectedly high, reaching over 60 percent of registered voters. Voting was peaceful, and as strong turnout figures came in, Tunisians were exuberant. Perhaps most important, the elections saw peaceful turnover of power. Nidaa Tunis, a party that emerged after uprisings against the Ennahda-led government, emerged the winner, and Ennahda conceded defeat. Now, negotiations over the Cabinet will begin, with all the usual haggling. In stark contrast to experiences in Egypt or Libya, Tunisia’s elections are “politics as normal.””

Sisi gives Egypt military new powers after Sinai attack -BBC


Its deja vu all over again. One of the main complaints leveled against the Mubarak regime was that it ruled under a constant state of emergency. The state of emergency was put in place when Mubarak took power after the assignation of Anwar Sadat in 1981, and it remained in place until after he was overthrown. Sisi has now brought it back, at least for the next 3 months.

Is Libya a proxy war? -Washington Post


Interesting article on the involvement of Egypt, the UAE and Qatar in Libya’s deteriorating political situation. Historically, the logic of alliances has meant “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. It has often been said that in the Middle East “the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy” because of the complex and overlapping rivalries that have existed in the region. Now we can add a third permutation: “the friend of my friend is my enemy”. Egypt the UAE and Qatar have long been considered part of the conservative club of Arab states. All three are partners in the anti-IS coalition and Qatar and the UAE are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Still it seems to be the UAE and Egypt versus Qatar in Libya. The Middle East is the place where neo-realist alliance theory goes to die.

Egypt imposes state of emergency in Sinai after attacks -BBC


“There has been no claim of responsibility for Friday’s suicide blast at an army checkpoint that killed 28 soldiers.
At least 28 others were injured in the attack near El Arish, the main town in the north of the restive peninsula.
Three more soldiers died in a separate shooting at a checkpoint in the town itself.”

“The area has become increasingly lawless since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011. Militants have stepped up attacks since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by the army last year.”

Keep Calm and Carry On, Stephen Harper -Foreign Policy


“Doubling down on counter-terrorism at home and abroad won’t make Canada a safer place.”

Stephen Walt makes a good point about the degree to which Canada is under threat; that is, not very much. Whether Canada should be involved in the IS crisis, and whether Canada’s military contribution is significant are questions open for debate, though I think there is a little more to them than Walt’s treatment suggests.

Gender and the IS Crisis: The Strange, Complex Story of Women and ISIS Militants -AltNet


“Amid the rumors and lurid headlines, it’s hard to get the truth.”

A brief, but thoughtful discussion of how gender issues play into the current IS crisis.

Here is a particularly startling example of how gender issues are being presented in the crisis:

#BBCtrending: The mock Islamic State slave auction in London