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Middle East Press (05 Dec 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

How Facebook Hurt the Syrian Revolution: New Age Islam's Selection, 05 December 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

05 December 2016

How Facebook Hurt the Syrian Revolution

By Riham Alkousaa

Russia and Pakistan Slowly Move Towards an Embrace

By Ahmed Rashid

Who's Conning Whom In Donald Trump's America

By Mark Levine

Obama’s Legacy for the GCC in the Middle East

By Dr. Theodore Karasik

Egypt Bets on Strategic Relations with Trump and Putin

By Raghida Dergham

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


How Facebook Hurt the Syrian Revolution

By Riham Alkousaa


"Will I die, miss? Will I die?" asks a Syrian boy in panic. The recent video shot in a wrecked hospital in Aleppo in the aftermath of a chlorine gas attack went viral on social media. Just a few months earlier, Aleppo hit the newsfeeds with another shocking image of an injured child: five-year-old Omran Daqneesh sitting in an orange ambulance chair.

Aleppo has been one of the highest trending news on social media in the United States for a while now. People express anger, sadness, disappointment; they like and share; they tweet. And what of it? Nothing changes in Aleppo.

At the same time, across the ocean, in the US, there has been a heated discussion about the major role social media played in the recent elections. Some have argued that Donald Trump's tweets got him more media coverage and attracted voters' attention while fake news, which spread on social media, helped him seal his victory.

So why is it that social media can help win an election in one country and cannot stop a month-long massacre in another?

Erica Chenoweth, a professor at the School of International Studies at the University of Denver, has argued that social media is helping dictators, while giving the masses an illusion of empowerment and political worthiness.

At a recent lecture at Columbia University, when asked for an example where social media played a negative role in a social movement, Chenoweth paused a little to finally say, "what comes to my mind now is Syria."

Indeed, social media hurt the Syrian uprising. It gave the Syrian people the hope that the old dictatorship can be toppled just by uploading videos of protests and publishing critical posts. Many were convinced that if social media helped Egyptians get rid of Hosni Mubarak, it would help them overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

It created the false illusion that toppling him would be easy and doable.

The Limits of Social Media Activism

Social media didn't highlight the differences in the political structures of Egypt, Tunisia and Syria. The absence of a developed political opposition in Syria didn't come to the mind of those young protesters eagerly posting on Facebook and Twitter. Egypt had decades of experience with political opposition to the regime and Syria didn't.

But with a society under constant and pervasive surveillance, how could the Syrians develop a mature political opposition? The brief period of political relaxation following the death of Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad, in June 2000, could've been an opportunity to start this process.

But the Damascus Spring, as this period of intense political and social debate was later called, ended in the autumn of 2001 with serious government repressions.

In March 2011, it looked easy to be in opposition on Facebook; it was a great platform for those who wanted to protest. The Facebook page "Syrian Revolution" was just a click away and its followers quickly grew above 100,000. What few people knew in Syria was that the administrator was actually a Syrian living in the safety of Sweden and that only 35 percent of those liking the page were Syrians actually living in Syria.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the numbers turning up sometimes at scheduled protests were low. Many were waiting for a huge sit-in to be in Umayyad Square in the heart of Damascus, or at least in Abaseen Square near the big stadium. It never happened.

Instead, the regime was able to organise major counter-marches in the same squares. The difference is that Assad wasn't relying on Facebook to gather the crowds. He had some loyal supporters who would volunteer to turn up and the rest of the crowd would get volunteered - that is to say, various state institutions would force its workers to rally … or else.

Social media also limited social movements to only one tactic: street demonstrations. Crowds of protesters were easy targets for killing (live ammunition was widely used) and mass arrests, quickly shrinking the numbers of those willing to come out.

The few attempted boycotts would also fail for the same reason. In December 2011, activists tried to organise a trade boycott, encouraging shops to close down; many refused to do it after they saw all the shops that were burned in Deraa after a similar initiative.

The use of social media also made activists and regular protesters highly vulnerable. When the regime allowed direct access to Facebook (which had been only accessible through VPN until then) in February 2011, it was clear that it is doing so to facilitate surveillance and the targeting of the protest movement.

Many were arrested for just sharing a photo, commenting or uploading a video. Facebook-organised protests also allowed the regime to know in advance the location and prepare its crack-down accordingly.

Virtual Protests Stay Virtual

More importantly, social media created the illusion that one can change and challenge the events on ground by being active online. Aleppo has been severely bombed since September 2015 with the Russian intervention. This year, when news erupts that the situation is catastrophic, thousands of Syrians around the world protest … by changing their Facebook profile picture.

People react virtually while not much is changing on the ground. The number of actual protests on the ground for Syria had declined by 2013. The feeling that social media gives you that you've done your bit by posting online is one reason for this demobilisation.

In this regard, Syria is like Palestine, where calls for a third Intifada have not materialised into actions, despite the growing number of Israeli violations.

In fact, this trend is obvious, not just in the Middle East, but globally. In the 1990s, before the advent of social media, around 70 percent of nonviolent social movements succeeded while this number plummeted to only 30 percent in the Facebook and Twitter era.

Social media, of course, is not the only reason why the Syrian uprising failed. But it is something that Syrian revolutionaries should think about when thinking about the future of their movement.

Facebook posts cannot defeat an unscrupulous dictator armed with a brutal repressive apparatus and resolved to use it at will.

Riham Alkousaa is a Syrian journalist covering refugees in Europe and conflict in Syria. She is currently a masters' student of Politics and Global Affairs at Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/12/facebook-hurt-syrian-revolution-161203125951577.html


Russia and Pakistan Slowly Move Towards an Embrace

By Ahmed Rashid


After decades of hostility, Russia and Pakistan are gingerly trying to improve relations. Russia is cautiously wooing Pakistan in a bid to temper Islamabad's support for the Afghan Taliban and to end the civil war in Afghanistan, which is threatening Central Asia - the soft underbelly of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union territories.

Pakistan faces increasing isolation in the region - spurned by India, Afghanistan and Iran, and criticised by the US and NATO countries - because of its continued harbouring of the Afghan Taliban. At present, it is solely dependent on Chinese economic and political support.

It is not surprising; therefore, that Pakistan is desperately keen to rebuild relations with Russia. Islamabad would like to use warmer ties with Moscow to counter US and western pressure and be able to boast of more than one ally in the region. 

Closer Military Cooperation

The actual signs of an improved relationship between Pakistan and Russia are still scant. In September 2016, 70 Russian and 130 Pakistani special forces held their first joint military exercises in Cherat, in northern Pakistan, home of Pakistan's Special Forces. India had asked Russia to call off the exercise following the 18 September militant attack on an Indian army base which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan, but the Russians declined.

The military games went ahead and senior army officers from both countries visited the exercise.

Soon after, Pakistan offered Russia the use of Gwadar, its new Chinese-built port on the Gulf, which is close to Iran and opposite Oman. From Tsarist times, Russia has always wanted a port in the ''warm waters'' of the Gulf. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan was convinced that the Russian dream was to have a base on Pakistan's Gulf coastline. Ironically, Pakistan is now offering the same facility.

However, Gwadar port is yet to become fully operational and it is surrounded by insurgencies in Afghanistan and Balochistan province. Its capacity is being enhanced by a Chinese-built network of roads that will eventually connect to the Chinese border in northern Pakistan.

Use of the port by foreign ships is still some way off, and Pakistan has not made it clear if it would allow Russian warships to dock there. The Chinese navy has already been granted landing rights at the port.

Russia has also agreed to sell helicopters to Pakistan, lifting its decades-old arms embargo against Islamabad, while India is now looking for arms from Western nations such as the US and France.

Historic Divisions over Afghanistan

However, while the Pakistani government is playing up its new relationship with Moscow, the Russians are reacting cautiously, especially because of their long-standing relationship with Pakistan's archenemy, India.

Russia cannot afford to annoy India, which is the largest market in the world for its arms and military aircraft. Historically, India was one of the few non-aligned Asian countries that sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Both Russia and India are also providing Soviet-era arms and helicopters to the government in Kabul.

Earlier in March 2016 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made overtures to Russia for President Vladimir Putin to visit Pakistan, but the Russians said that they do not believe there was enough substance on the agenda to justify such a visit - a clear snub to Islamabad and a warning to do more to curtail the Taliban, who have twice captured the city of Kunduz that borders Central Asia.

No Russian president has ever visited Pakistan, but as long as the Taliban threaten Central Asia it is unlikely that a Russian leader will do so.

Afghanistan remains a key Russian interest. In April, Zamir Kabulov, Russia's special envoy to Afghanistan criticised the format of the peace talks that Pakistan was trying to bring about between the Kabul government and the Afghan Taliban. Russia was not happy it was sidelined in the talks, which included China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Kabulov called the talks inefficient and said Russia wanted to create a new format.

Nevertheless, Islamabad and Moscow are moving away from their years of hostility. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan while the Afghan Mujaheddin were armed and financed by Western intelligence agencies and Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence. The Mujaheddin fought the Russians to a standstill, forcing it to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989.

Throughout the 1990s, as Pakistan continued to support the Taliban regime in Kabul and the separatist uprising in Indian Kashmir, Russia remained wedded to its close ally, India.

The key to warmer ties is an end to the continuing civil war in Afghanistan. Both China and Russia feel threatened by this war, and by the number of young men from their Muslim populations who are joining militant groups. In an important development, Russia, China and Pakistan are due to hold a tripartite meeting to discuss the common threats they face in Afghanistan. Russia will host the meeting and Pakistan has already called it a watershed moment.

Russia and Pakistan also now share a common threat - that of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), which is recruiting youngsters in Russia, Central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The two nations may have a long way to go before relations actually warm up.

Ahmed Rashid is the author of five books on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. His latest book is Pakistan on the Brink.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/12/russia-pakistan-slowly-move-embrace-161203083811644.html


Who's Conning Whom in Donald Trump's America

By Mark LeVine


It was fitting that the most important struggle on the eve of the now-historic presidential election was the battle for Standing Rock. Even more than the Movement for Black Lives, the conflict between Native Americans and toxic corporations and their government allies (including President-elect Donald Trump) symbolises the ruined promises and outright lies that have always defined the United States' treatment of its most violated and vulnerable inhabitants.

Many progressives have criticised working and middle-class Trump voters for being "conned" or "scammed" by a someone who will not (and in fact could not) deliver on his promises of white economic and political renewal.

But I think Trump voters are, in fact, a lot smarter than they're being given credit, and that's even scarier. A large share of the working and middle-class voters who have turned to Trump, in fact, see the world precisely as it is - stacked against them.

They realise that the promises of Democrats going back to Bill Clinton to help them adapt to the neoliberal global order whose basic contours and structures cannot be changed have proved empty.

Racial Resentment

Despite shepherding an unprecedented economic recovery after the disastrous George W Bush years, the Obama administration failed to end the state of constant precarity in which so many Americans are forced to live.

For many historically oppressed groups, like African Americans and Latinos, whose lives have always been precarious, the economic improvement was undeniable and largely appreciated.

But for whites, who historically have felt entitled to far more secure lives, whatever improvements he managed to bring did not address the core economic and cultural insecurities that have come to dominate their lives (and can be traced, among other things, in the massive opioid epidemic and suicides among white Americans).

That Republican obstructionism, rather his own lack of interest or concern, is the chief reason for this failure is irrelevant. The reality is that there was a clear rise in "racial resentment", among the millions of white Americans who previously supported Barack Obama, that was clearly transferred to his anointed successor, Hillary Clinton.

Its roots lie in the realisation by many working/middle-class whites that they've been put in a classic zero-sum situation: a global and US political economy that is never going to produce the kinds of jobs and lives for which they've long felt entitled, while at the same time other groups see improvements in their situations relative to historic white power and privilege.

And so, when Trump gave them a choice between an ersatz multiracial democracy in which they are increasingly disadvantaged and a return to the order and stability of white primacy, they made a logical choice: if the pie isn't going to get any bigger (and in fact, is in some ways shrinking) then the only way they can keep, never mind increase, their share, is to make sure others get less.

If Trump can install two to four Supreme Court justices who will back such an agenda with the full force of the constitution, their superiority will be assured for decades, even after the demographic balance tips away from them.

Thus, voting for Trump was not voting for a con man - or at least most didn't buy the con. Rather, it was a strategic action: a vote for the candidate who will push everyone else back and ensure they at least maintain their fragile superiority and privilege, such as it is, for as long as possible.

Put another way, Trump's white legions understand that unless there is a radically new political order, they are simply never going to achieve a level of prosperity and security under neoliberal capitalism as they did under the post-War corporate welfare state.

Until someone can articulate a plausible path to such a future, we can expect them to continue to cling to white privilege and power as long as it's believed it will deliver more benefits than the available alternatives.

A Strong Country

In fact, Americans have heard this sales pitch before, on the other end of the imperial bell curve. In the late 19th century, as the US was becoming a global power, one of the foremost preachers in America, Josiah Strong, a Protestant clergyman, argued for a "strong" America, projecting American power and reining in immigration of "the pauper and criminal class" in much the same fashion as Trump.

Where Trump sees Muslims as an existential threat, Strong saw Catholics. Similarly, Trump's casually vicious eugenics saw its predecessor in Strong's celebration of white "Anglo-Saxon" Christian men who were the natural epitome of the "pure, spiritual Christianity and... civil liberty" that were missing from and undeserved by everyone else.

Crucially, Strong believed that "the time is coming when ... the world enter upon a new stage of its history-the final competition of races... Then this race of unequalled energy ... having developed peculiarly aggressive traits calculated to impress its institutions upon mankind, will ... move down upon Mexico [and] Central and South America ... over upon Africa and beyond. And can anyone doubt that the result of this competition of races will be the 'survival of the fittest'?" (PDF)

Today, the US's frontiers are long closed, the future no longer wide open. Its global power is shrinking with no ideology, or even managerial method capable of managing, as did Fordism and Taylorism in the 20th century, the still-developing global neoliberal economic order.

The present "survival of the fittest" contest is not one working and middle-class, white, Christian America is likely to "win" on its merits, unless the game is again rigged in its favour. And nothing helps rig politics more powerfully than the race card.

So we are left, at the dawn of the Trump era, wondering how a progressive movement can both appeal to the full spectrum of Americans while still offering Trump's white core a vision and narrative that is both more hopeful and indicative of a change that benefits them than the soon-to-be-installed system of hyper capitalism with a pronounced white bias.

In the interim, it's clear that any attempt by progressives, such as Bernie Sanders, to work with Trump would be a disaster. There is no way to de-racialise Trump's policies. Any success would only reinforce the profoundly racist system that will be (re)installed during his tenure.

Meanwhile, unions face an "existential crisis"; the large-scale protests of the kind we now see at Standing Rock might succeed in individual circumstances, but will almost assuredly be unsustainable at a national level, unless the left shows a level of organisation and training that it has shown no indication of possessing.

Simply put, in the Trump era we are all increasingly "indigenous"; suffering from the lack of political representation, discrimination and economic marginalisation that have defined Native America since the 18th century.

But as the elders often repeat at Standing Rock, when people of different races and identities - literally, the "four winds" - come together as is occurring now on that hauntingly beautiful landscape, their collective force can blow away even the strongest obstacle to healing and change. That at least is a vision through which a broad and inclusive progressive vision can be articulated.

Mark LeVine is a professor of Middle Eastern History at University of California, Irvine, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lund University.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/12/conning-donald-trump-america-161204092236934.html


Obama’s Legacy for the GCC in the Middle East

By Dr. Theodore Karasik

4 December 2016

In the past eight years, GCC strategic thinking has experienced geopolitical earthquakes brought on by the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy that bodes ill for the 44th US president’s legacy.

When Obama started his tenure of America’s commander in chief, GCC officials were already upset with the Bush Administration’s handling of the US occupation of Iraq and the subsequent Obama Administration’s ending of the SOFA agreement with Baghdad in 2011. The Egypt debacle is also a case where Washington shrank away from supporting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

A new round of damage to GCC interests occurred during the last two years of the Obama Administration and is continuing to bring disorder.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA): The GCC states see that Iran is empowered to further occupy Arab lands and apply direct pressure on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia thru proxy fights especially on the Yemeni-Saudi border. In Yemen, Iran’s supplying and equipping of arms for the Houthis including missile support continues. A GCC official stated “this is the real US-Iran Grand Bargain we were all worried about. And looked what happened. There is an Iranian proxy state on Saudi Arabia’s border simply because of JCPOA’s impact on the Persian psyche to dominate.” There are moves to amend JCPOA but the damage is already done.

Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA): Under Obama’s watch, the US Congress passed JASTA which opens up the door to years of litigation while Americans can sue Saudi Arabia for the events of 9/11. JASTA narrows the scope of the legal doctrine of foreign sovereign immunity which can be used by any legal authority against Americans abroad. There are deep concerns in the US legal community about the impact of JASTA on bilateral economic ties between America and the GCC.

Egypt’s continuing problems: The Obama Administration abandoned an Arab ally in a time of crisis while experimenting with the Muslim Brotherhood as an alternative form of authority to reshape the Middle East by making political Islam a model of governance. The GCC states saw this Obama Administration effort as a direct threat to Arab monarchies. The effort failed miserably and left several countries shattered including Egypt which just received IMF funding while navigating a spat with some Arab allies. The Obama Administration’s support of the Brotherhood can be seen through the Middle East, specifically in Libya. Egypt’s brittle neighbor is now shifting gears again in its civil war with dramatic consequences for the security and safety of North Africa.

Iraq and Syria battle space: The GCC accuses Obama of withdrawing from Iraq before its armed forces were prepared to defend the country while standing by and abetting former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s relationship with Iran that marginalized everyone but the Shiites. The result was the rise and spread of ISIS. In Syria, Obama’s “red line” debacle and lack of resolve to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to be a very sore spot. The GCC states see Obama’s, failed strategy gave rise to ISIS, Iranian hegemony, rampaging Shiite militias numbering over 100,000, and a regional proxy war. There is no doubt that Obama’s strategy - or lack thereof - allowed Russia to enter the Middle East as a major regional player that the GCC states see as a new possible partner in some regional contingencies.

Legacy Or Not?

There are other problems that affect Obama’s legacy - notably the US President’s interview to The New Yorker where he called out “free riders” - but there may be one fortunate consequence: The Obama Administration empowered the GCC states to step out on their own by forcing them to defend themselves from state and non-state threats. The idea that the GCC states do not need America—like they used to—is becoming a solid fact. To be sure, GCC states need American military technology and support, but politically the tide can continue to where GCC states stand up for themselves and fight their own regional battles based on their own realpolitik.

Let’s remember that Obama bequests this legacy to his successor President-Elect Donald Trump who, given his transition team’s smart appointments at the US Department of Defense and the US State Department, leads us to believe that an opening to boost GCC views in the Middle East is forthcoming. Honest, straight talk between the GCC and the Trump Administration will produce necessary dividends in the Middle East.

Gulf Arabs have looked to America and its allies for protection in the Middle East. But the region appears to be “America-less” in the waning days of the Obama Administration. The Obama legacy is tarnished.

Dr. Theodore Karasik is a Gulf-based analyst of regional geo-political affairs. He received his Ph.D in History from UCLA in Los Angeles, California in four fields: Middle East, Russia, Caucasus, and a specialized sub-field in Cultural Anthropology focusing on tribes and clans.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/12/04/Obama-s-legacy-for-the-GCC-in-the-Middle-East-.html


Egypt Bets on Strategic Relations with Trump and Putin

By Raghida Dergham

4 December 2016

According to sources close to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, next year will be Egypt’s year par excellence. They say Egypt will be the only Arab country that will have strategic quasi-alliances with both Putin’s Russia and Trump’s America. They say in all confidence that Egypt’s economy will recover but also its strategic role, to the point that it will stop needing assistance from wealthy Gulf governments. The sources claim that there is a nationalistic and patriotic surge in Egypt coupled with a wager on a special relationship between Trump and Putin, and the belief that the Egyptian leadership has made good use of strategic alliances with powers led by Russia. Many in Egypt are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory as though they were American voters. One of the main reasons is the antipathy towards the Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom they accuse, alongside the outgoing President Barack Obama, of endorsing the Muslim Brotherhood and their rise to power in Cairo and beyond.

However, the supposedly cozy relationship between Trump and Putin, as suggested by Trump’s campaign remarks, will have a definitive impact on US policy in the Middle East including in the Gulf, the sources argue. They are convinced the biggest winner will be Egypt and the biggest loser will be the Arab Gulf states, and thus Egypt has decided “nationalist pragmatism” requires it to support Russia’s efforts in Syria despite war crimes accusations coming from key European powers. Without equivocation, then, it seems the ruling class in Egypt have washed their hands clean of any moral responsibility vis-à-vis Syrian civilians. The rulers of Egypt seem to have resolved that the fight against Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood is an absolute priority and decided to support the efforts led by Russia, Iran and allied proxy militias fighting to keep Assad in power.

Turning a Blind Eye

Likewise, Germany is also turning a blind eye to Russian-Iranian violations in Syria. Berlin sees itself as the nexus of Western-Russian/Iranian relations and because it played a key role in making the nuclear deal with Iran happen, the ruling class and the elite in Germany are keen to protect the deal, and therefore Iran, from accountability for its actions in Syria. Egypt in the Arab region is similar to Germany in Europe, in terms of the default exoneration of Iran’s actions in Syria. The difference, however, is that Germany plays a leading role in in influencing US-Russian relations from a strategic standpoint, while Egypt is riding on the coattails of these relations having judged them to be proceeding along a path favorable to Cairo.

This week, an event held by the Körber-Stiftung Institute in Berlin featured a debate on the nuclear deal. The debate asked whether the deal has made the Middle East more or less stable. A pre-debate poll saw 80 percent disagree with its premise, compared to 60 percent following the discussions. The other 40 said the deal emboldened Iran to carry out military interventions in the Arab countries.

Despite hearing evidence of Iran’s violations, the number of people agreeing to the premise of the debate question doubled. What matters most in this context is therefore the knee-jerk way in which the nuclear deal has come to be defended, coupled with resistance to scrutinizing Iran’s practices in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Such keenness is obvious in discussions with decision makers in Berlin, not just in terms of bilateral relations with Iran but also in terms of what issues will figure in the agenda of prospective talks with the Trump administration.

Top Priority

The top priority in Germany seems to be the Minsk talks with Russia on Ukraine, which German diplomats say they want to keep separate from Syria. Germany does not accept that separating the two issues – something that it will seek to convince Trump of – will have the same effect as the separation of the nuclear deal from regional issues during negotiations with Tehran, which emboldened Iran against Arab countries.

Meanwhile, there is no indication Arab – especially Gulf – governments are thinking about influencing policies being drafted ahead of Trump’s inauguration, be they US or European policies. Russia and Iran are both at the heart of these policies and so there is a vital need to think of an Arab approach.

Egypt is no exception. It is taking out bets, not planning. The political class and elite are furious with the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, and seem to be willing to gamble relations with them despite the implications for the Egyptian economy. Egypt believes its interests require strengthening the strategic relationship with Russia, an important ally to Cairo in the fight against the Muslim Brotherhood. For Egypt’s rulers, Obama’s departure removes one major foe and obstacle. Donald Trump, they believe, will usher in a new strategic US-Egyptian relationship that will upgrade Egypt’s role in the regional balance of power, without the need for Gulf governments. This is what a visitor to Cairo senses these days. Yet despite hopes for Egyptian economic and regional recovery, it is difficult to be reassured by Egypt’s nationalist wave marred by extreme detachment from the reality of its internal circumstances and regional ambitions.

Egypt’s leadership has made clear its support for the regime army in Syria and decided that its interest lies in becoming the fourth pole of the Russia-Iran-regime axis. Egypt may not be the fourth pole in a military sense, but it will definitely be one in the political and strategic senses. This is a major development, especially as Saudi Arabia and the UAE had rushed to give billions to Egypt to shore up its internal stability and Arab weight in the regional balance of power. But now, things could be altogether different.

The elephant in the room is Donald Trump. Everyone is waiting for the message he will send through his key appointments, led by the state department and the national security advisor posts. Some believe the appointments would determine the trends of Trumps policies. But others believe Trump will personally set the tone for US foreign policy despite being a newcomer.

For its part, Germany is gearing up to influence the Trump administration in a calculated manner, based on policies, relations and strategies. Egypt, however, is betting on changes in the international landscape that it believes would serve its interests, such as the election of Donald Trump and the Russian president’s determination to impose his country’s role in the Middle East through Syria with Iranian partnership. That will be nothing short of a very Egyptian adventure.

Raghida Dergham is Columnist, Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, and New York Bureau Chief for the London-based Al Hayat newspaper since 1989. She is dean of the international media at the United Nations. Dergham is Founder and Executive Chairman of Beirut Institute, an indigenous, independent, inter-generational think tank for the Arab region with a global reach. An authority on strategic international relations, Dergham is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and an Honorary Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association. She served on the International Media Council of the World Economic Forum, and is a member of the Development Advisory Committee of the IAP- the Global Network of Science Academies. She can be reached on Twitter @RaghidaDergham

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/12/04/Egypt-bets-on-strategic-relations-with-Trump-and-Putin.html

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/how-facebook-hurt-the-syrian-revolution--new-age-islam-s-selection,-05-december-2016/d/109279


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