Monthly political analysis on nations in
economic or political transition


February 2015


IRAN: Towards a Nuclear Deal, Finally?; Egypt: Four years after Tahrir Square, Egypt's Democractic Hopes are Broken; Turkey: Erdogan Stamps his Authority on the Nation.

Iran: Towards a Nuclear Deal, Finally?

As Saudi Arabia adjusts to the loss of its nonagerian King Abdullah and the succession of the former Crown Prince his 79 year old half-brother, now King Salman, we look at their regional competitor Iran, which has continued to make inroads in the proxy wars of the neighbourhood, not least against the IS.

We also consider the matter of the eventual succession in Iran to the elderly Ayatollah Khamenai, who last year developed prostrate cancer, but is still active in the nation’s affairs. Whatever else, where Saudi successor monarchs are drawn from the senior brothers of each king, it looks as though the management of the longstanding armed peace, between Saudi and Iran will remain the province of Sunni and Shia old men. Since ultimate power in Saudi rests with a not dissimilar age-group to each royal incumbent, until ‘the fund’ of brothers ‘runs out,’ is matched in these terms by Iran’s expectations of elderly scholars sufficiently distinguished in religious affairs to achieve Ayatollah ranking, and hopefully, sufficiently of this world to deal wisely with the nation’s elected ministers.

So an update on Iranian internal and external affairs follows, where nuclear negotiations are weighed; the economy; the relations with Afghanistan where they have become a significant player; and the regional wars in Syria Iraq and Yemen where they are making their presence felt in competition with the rival regional power of Saudi Arabia. [...]

Egypt: Four years after Tahrir Square, Egypt's Democratic Hopes are Broken

The Tahrir ‘Revolution’ of January 2011 remains incomplete. It may appear as if the situation has settled under the presidency of Gen. al-Sisi but a new opposition has emerged from the rubble of the former Mubarak regime and from the short lived leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. The 4th anniversary of the Tahrir Square revolt that appeared to serve as the launchpad of an Egyptian and Arab political renewal has revealed that there are still many cracks in the foundation that need to be addressed. At least 15 people were killed in clashes throughout Egypt, and many more injured, during the clashes that erupted in the streets of Egypt on the anniversary of a Revolution that has made a full circle from military dictatorship to ‘Brotherhood’ and back to the military. The deaths occurred in Cairo, as well as Beheira, Matariya, Ain Shams, Menoufia and Alexandria suggesting that the unrest and the tensions continue to be felt throughout the country. The media, effectively controlled by the President Al-Sisi’s government, has reported that the clashes involved the army and the Muslim Brotherhood – the supporters of jailed President Morsi - however, this is rather a misrepresentation of the fact that there are many groups, and based on some of the victims’ identities some include very secular left wing parties that had clashed with the Brotherhood as well as the Mubarak regime, involved in the protests. [...]

Turkey: Erdogan Stamps his Authority on the Nation

Turkey has seen in the New Year with Reccep Tayyip Erdogan now as its President. The former Prime Minister and head of the ruling AKP party became President last year having reached the maximum three terms as Prime Minister. Many heralded this as the moment when previous glimpses of authoritarianism, witnessed notably in his attitude to freedom of speech, to the country's constitutional settlement and to opposition movements, came into plain sight. Indeed, the mercurial populist hopes to see the presidency, largely decorative until this point, assume the powers he wishes it to exercise during his tenure through actual changes to the constitution. [...]



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