A few weeks ago, an important player backed out of Egypt’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Hany Kadry Dimian, former deputy finance minister and the IMF’s “go-to” man during the talks, left the ministry at the end of April, a warning sign for international policy makers and Egyptian officials who insist that they are on the cusp of signing an IMF loan worth $4.8 billion.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Abdallah Shehata replaced Dimian, who had served as the deputy since 2007, weathering a storm of five different finance ministers in the two years since the revolution. Dimian also represented Egypt in his government’s dialogue with the European Union over the economy and co-ordinated the EU-Egypt Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan.
At the outset, his departure was seen as part of a wider cabinet re-shuffle that resulted in the appointment of nine new ministers
At the end of April as Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was flown to France for treatment, in my blog post "The perils of gerontocracy", I warned that these are testing times for the Algerian regime. It does not currently appear to have any alternatives to the current president to act as the public face of the different interest groups that hold up the Algerian regime – known as le pouvoir.
Over the weekend, the government laid bare just how nervous it is about this in a thinly veiled attempt to silence speculation about the health of Bouteflika. On Saturday, the Ministry of Communications pressured Hicham Aboud, editor of My Journal and Djaridati newspapers, to remove an article that suggested (on the basis of what he reported as reliable medical sources) that Bouteflika had fallen into a coma. Aboud has refused to do so and has instead notified the international press
May 9 was Europe Day - for the EU. The Council of Europe, however, set May 5 as its Europe Day. Europeans, it seems, can't even agree on when to celebrate their unity. Worse, the EU in particular is having yet another identity crisis involving self-doubt and internal recriminations. This time, however, it seems different; a recent poll by the Pew Research Centre warns that support for the EU has fallen from 60% to 45%. Perhaps most EU citizens realise that things are more serious this time, because the stakes are higher. The creation of the euro zone has locked a subset of EU countries into an uneasy, and unbalanced, relationship with each other, while simultaneously causing some non-euro EU
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Today relations between the US and Turkey are in a much better shape than a few years ago. Israel's decision to apologise to the Turks over the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident and offer financial compensation, reached after heavy American lobbying, has given the Obama administration a sigh of relief. Now that the US is seeking to extricate itself from the Middle East and pivot to East Asia, two critical allies are willing to re-engage. Today's visit of Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Washington DC must be seen in this context. The Turkish leader is received with top honours by Obama and Biden, and is given plenty of time and attention. The fact is that he and the US president have managed to build a strong relationship which also survived the dark days when there was a lot of talk about Ankara’s turn to the East - towards Iran, Hamas and the like. The sheer number of meetings between
The European economy now lies under a shadow - the severe situation of unemployment, stagnation and cutbacks in the welfare state, bringing hardship to millions of Europeans. The magnitudes are impressive. If the 26 million unemployed people in the EU declared their independence, they would be the sixth-largest state in terms of population.
To illustrate this, what country would be better than Spain? There are now more unemployed Spaniards than there are people in Denmark (5.5 million), not to mention less populous states such as Slovakia, Finland and several others. If the 6.2 million unemployed Spaniards decided to secede from Spain and set up their own state, there would be no less than 11 states dwarfed by this hypothetical "Republic of the Dole". Of course, while all these jobless Spaniards lack a political voice of their own, those 11 states of the EU each have a commissioner
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