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What we're reading - June 25, 2012

Our readers help us highlight what they are reading about the Arab Spring from around the web...

Arab Awakening
28 June 2012

Barah Mikail writes for FRIDE about the exaggerated spectre of sectarianism after the Arab uprisings:



Drawing attention to sectarian tensions runs the risk that such schemes will be appropriated and reinforced by the population in a self-fulfilling prophecy. The same applies to the current over-emphasis of media reporting and analysis on confessional, ethnic and tribal affiliations. Over-emphasising these issues as a major source of regional identity questions the integrity of the nation state, and may potentially weaken national cohesion and favour disintegration.



Ugo Tramballi interviews Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat el-Shater in Cairo, for the financial newspaperIl Sole 24 Ore. [In Italian]



The Islamist leader says that he is worried by the fact that 40% of the population is living below the poverty line and 12 million Egyptians are unemployed: “the people are angry and if they were to go back to the streets, the revolution would spiral out of control”. For this reason “first, we need to guarantee security and stability. Without this, the investors will not come back to Egypt. Then, we will promote free market reform. We need to create the right climate to attract foreign, Arab and Egyptian investors”. He concludes that “we are looking to all economic models; however our idea of economy is positioned between the Turkish model and the Malaysian one”.



In The Guardian, Mohammad Ataie discusses Iranian efforts to broker a political solution in the country:



In the eyes of the Iranian leadership, civil war and sectarian violence in Syria only benefit Israel. In their view, the ramifications of sectarian violence in Syria extend far beyond Syria's borders and could entirely shift the anti-Israeli struggle to a regional Sunni-Shia conflict that could isolate Iran, a predominantly Shia and Persian state, that presents itself at the heart of Muslim anti-Israel and anti-US struggle in the region.



In The Jordan Times, Ramzy Baroud writes about the discrimination of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and the lack of substance in the political discussion regarding the matter:



Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees continue to be victimised by a bewildering political landscape and unmistakable discrimination by the state under the pretense that Palestinian refugees are temporary “guests” in Lebanon. Now even third generation “guests” of a UN-registered population of nearly 450,000 refugees are denied home ownership, inheritance of land or real estate, and are barred from many professions.

Justin Gengler looks at the indistinct nature of the “Sunni awakening” movement in Bahrain for The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

More than a year later, these platforms remain ambiguous. Does the post-February explosion of popular political enthusiasm in this only-too-recently apolitical community represent a genuine shift in Bahrain’s political landscape? Or is the mobilization tied somehow to existing Sunni political powers—or even to the state itself?

In the New York Times, Radwan Ziadeh and four prominent Middle East experts are asked about Russia's position on Syria:



Russia has been complicit in the Assad regime’s slaughter of its own people, arming the Syrian government as it tries to suppress a pro-democracy uprising, and stubbornly opposing international intervention.

To suggest articles for next weeks selection, tweet us @openAwakening

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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