• Pity Libya: Gaddafi is not a quitter

    There is much for which Tunisia’s Zain el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak should be criticized, but at least, at the end, they did not plunge their countries into a blood bath in order to keep their hold on power; Gaddafi is not a quitter, and it is not likely that his departure from the scene will be as peaceful

  • Anti-rocket system may become operational soon

    Terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas are too weak to fight the Israeli military, but what they can do is shower Israeli towns and cities with home-made Kassam rockets and Syria- and Iran-made Katyusha rockets; these rockets are not accurate and they carry a small warhead, but if you fire thousands of them (as Hezbollah did in the summer of 2006) or even a few hundreds (as Hamas has done since Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005), it is enough to terrorize the population; the solution Israel has been working on for a while now is Iron Dome

  • Libya rocked by massive anti-government demonstrations

    Thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrate in Tripoli and Benghazi ahead of Thursday “Day of Anger” mass rally in the capital; the protesters are said to have thrown stones and petrol bombs, and set vehicles alight. Witnesses said police used rubber bullets and water cannon to disperse them; Colonel Gaddafi is the Arab world’s longest-serving leader, having ruled oil-rich Libya since a coup in 1969; he has always insisted that the country is run by a series of peoples’ committees, though most outside observers believe it is a police state with him firmly in control; this popular anti-government wave in the region began with the overthrow of Tunisia’s leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in January; last week, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt resigned; in recent days there have also been anti-government demonstrations in Yemen, Bahrain, and Iran

  • U.S. and Turkey meet to expand counter-terrorism partnership

    Last week DHS secretary Janet Napolitano met with Turkey’s state minister Hayat Yazici to strengthen ties between the two countries and increase coordination to combat terrorism; Turkey is a critical ally in the Middle East and has worked closely with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan; last month, Turkey arrested a wanted Saudi terrorism suspect who was on the Saudi Interior Ministry’s list of eight five most wanted terrorists; the meeting comes as Napolitano is working with her European counterparts to secure the global supply chain, prevent terrorists from exploiting it, and protect its critical infrastructure; Turkey has worked closely with the United States on Project Global Shield, an international effort to interdict shipments of dangerous chemicals used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs)

  • Iran faces anti-government protests Monday

    Opposition groups in Iran are calling for massive demonstrations on Monday; the Iranian government, which brutally suppressed anti-government demonstrations following the disputed 2009 elections, vowed to stifle the opposition and not allow the demonstrations to take place; Reza Pahlavi, the eldest son of the last shah of Iran who was deposed in the 1979 revolution, said that the outcome in Egypt must be “emboldening” for his country; U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said: “By announcing that they will not allow opposition protests, the Iranian government has declared illegal for Iranians what it claimed was noble for Egyptians”

  • The third way in Egypt

    The dilemma the United States is facing in Egypt is often compared with the one encountered by the United States during the Iranian Revolution of 1979; pundits argue that the alternative in Egypt is between a corrupt but pro-Western dictatorship and a repressive religious autocracy; in the United States, worries have been expressed that the post-Mubarak transitional government, led by an intellectual or secular leader such el Baradei, will be vanquished in favor of Islamic autocracy as was the case with Shapur Bakhtiar, the last secular prime minister of Iran; this comparison misstates the history and presents a false choice

  • Mubarak cedes authority to Suleiman, but remains in office

    Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said Thursday he has passed authority to Vice President Omar Suleiman, but will not step down before September elections; the move, announced in a nationally televised address, means he will retain his title of president and ensures the regime will continue to control the reform process; it is not clear whether the anti-government protesters would accept Mubarak’s plan; Suleiman has led the regime’s management of the crisis since he was named to the vice president post soon after protests erupted on 25 January; with his efforts failing to bring an end to protests, he and his foreign minister both warned of the possibility of a coup and imposition of martial law if the protesters do not agree to a government-directed framework of negotiations for reforms

  • Governing post-Mubarak Egypt

    The end of Mubarak’s reign and the likely reforms of Egypt’s political system make for an unpredictable, nervous period; in 2005 the Muslim Brotherhood won 88 seats in parliament, or about 20 percent; the leadership of the MB at the time was more pragmatic and actively sought to be involved in the country’s politics; in January 2010 the leadership of the MB was changed, and a more religiously conservative, but also a more politically aloof, leaders are now at the helm; moreover, the MB historically has been the only movement to take on the regime, and as a result it has enjoyed what analysts regard as an inflated support; the demonstrations of the last two weeks show that there are many movements and groups now willing to participate in the political process; this means that Egypt’s silent majority will have alternatives to the MB at the polls; the trouble: there may be too many alternatives, risking splitting the secular vote, thus allowing the MB to emerge as one of the largest, if not the largest, party in the post-September elections parliament

  • Air Force to deploy supercomputer aboard a superblimp

    The U.S. Air Force is developing a massive blimp to gather and process all intelligence feeds from Afghanistan; the air ship will be longer than a football field and seven times the size of the Goodyear Blimp and will be able to stay afloat for nearly a week at nearly four miles up; the key feature of the ship will be its sophisticated supercomputer which can process 300 terabytes of data an hour; this computer will help limit data overload as surveillance sensors become increasingly complex; it currently takes fourteen analysts to monitor a single feed from a predator and the next generation drones will have ninety-six cameras; the blimp’s first test flight is scheduled for 15 October

  • Arab Silicon Valley plan raise fears of CPU shortages, security risks

    GlobalFoundries, originally part of U.S. No. 2 CPU manufacturer AMD, plans to spend $7 billion on a new chip fabrication facility in Abu Dhabi, the first in the Middle East; business and security experts say it is not a good idea to have a large segment of the U.S. and world economy depend on chips manufactured in an unstable, turmoil-prone region; the worry is not only that a hostile government coming to power would cut off computer components necessary for economnic activity and national security, but that foreign governments could build software or hardware into chips that could transmit confidential information

  • China stealth-jet maker eyes U.S. contracts

    Last month China shocked military analysts by unveiling its first stealth fighter; as is the case with many other Chinese technological advances, the technology was stolen from the United States, albeit indirectly: the Chinese fighter was made with technology from a U.S. stealth plane shot down in 1999 by Serbian forces during the Kosovo war; now, the Chinese manufacturer is teaming up with a small California company to bid on U.S. defense contracts, including contracts for stealth aircraft; the Chinese company also wants to bid on the contract to build the new generation of Marine One helicopters, which are used to transport the president (the U.S. president, not China’s)

  • Egypt's opposition groups have varied, conflicting agendas

    The opposition to the Mubarak regime is not unified except on one issue: the removal of Hosni Mubarak from power; the five major groups leading the opposition include the pious Muslim Brotherhood, the liberal Al Ghad Party, the nationalist WAFD Party, the socialist 6 April Youth movement, and the umbrella group National Association for Change (NAC), led by Mohamed el Baradei, which includes all these groups, and many more; the Brotherhood enjoys the broadest popular support among Egypt’s poor (and the vast majority of Egyptians are poor), and the best organization; to prevent the Brotherhood from coming to power, the WAFD and AL GHAD parties, with the support of el Baradei and some of the smaller members of the NAC, should consider cooperation with Ahmed Shafik, Omar Suleiman, and Sami Annan — the troika set to succeed Mubarak

  • Disaffected youth, stagnation, poverty threaten Mideast regimes

    In six Arab-Muslim states in the Middle East, six — Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen — more than 50 percent of the citizenry are under the age of 25; in other six states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates — the “under 25s” make up between 35 to 47 percent of the population; in Yemen, some 75 percent of the population is under 30, and the poverty rate exceeds 45 percent; in Egypt, some 66 percent of the population is under 30, while fully half the country’s 80 million citizens lives on less than $2 per day; since 1980, the Arab world has experienced the highest rate of [population] growth of any region in the world; during the same period, the Arab economies have been sputtering, creating far too few jobs

  • Mubarak to step down after September elections

    President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in September; he said on national TV that he will devote his remaining months in office to fashioning a constitutional reform; President Obama welcomed the announcement, saying that Egypt’s transition “must begin now”; he said the United States would be happy to offer assistance to Egypt during that process; Mubarak’s plan appears to divide Egyptians — and the protesters; some are determined to carry on, while others think these are major concessions and that the protests have gone far enough; Egypt’s powerful army vowed that it would not use force against the protesters, despite maintaining a strong presence in central Cairo

  • Pro-government demonstrators clash with opponents

    Thousands of pro-government demonstrators appear in Egypt’s major cities and clash with anti-government demonstrators; the anti-Mubarak protesters have been accusing the army of moving aside to let their pro-government rivals enter streets and square where anti-government protesters congregate; in a statement, Egypt’s army called for demonstrators to return to their homes; meanwhile, Internet services were returning to the country, having been cut off for days by the government; state television also reported an easing of a nationwide curfew