Jack Cohen

Arab fluidity

The fluid nature of the Arab world continues undiminished. For example, in Egypt, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, that has been running the country since Mubarak’s downfall, recently declared the elected parliament, where the Muslim Brotherhood and other Muslim parties have an absolute majority, to be unconstitutional. Now, the newly elected President Mohammed Mursi, an MB leader, has called the Parliament to re-assemble and has declared it constitutional. So it looks as if there is going to be a direct power struggle in Egypt between the Armed Forces and the MB. Unless one of them blinks and steps back, it seems inevitable that there will be clashes between the supporters of the two sides, on the one side the Army and on the other the MB. How this will play out in Egypt cannot be foreseen, but it seems unlikely that cool heads will prevail and a compromise will be reached.

In Syria, where Pres. Assad’s regime has murdered ca. 17,000 Syrians, another round of talks is being held with Kofi Annan, representative of the Arab League and the UN. It can be readily predicted that these talks will result in no change, and unless the Russians and Chinese reduce their support for Assad, the killing will continue. Where are the passionate supporters of human rights that are usually attacking Israel when they are really needed? Meanwhile the conflict has spilled over into neighboring Lebanon, where clashes between pro- and anti-Assad forces have resulted in 90 deaths. Also, the number of refugees reaching Turkey and Jordan has multiplied considerably and soon something will have to be done about this. It is likely that after the downing of the Turkish plane, the increased influx of refugees and the defection of high level members of the Assad regime, such as Gen. Tlass, Turkey will soon find it necessary to act.

In Libya, despite all the difficulties, including the burning of ballots and armed clashes, the elections seem to have gone off without serious problems. According to early and preliminary results they may have produced a surprising outcome, unlike those in Tunisia and Egypt, namely that the party that received a majority is not Islamist, but liberal. This might bode well for Libya’s return to the civilized world after being ruled by the dictator Qaddafi for 40 years. Perhaps there is reason for hope after all.

About the Author
Jack Cohen was born in London and has a PhD in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He moved to the US and worked at the National Cancer Inst. and then Georgetown Medical School. In 1996, he Moved to Israel and became Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center. He retired in 2001 and worked as a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University Medical School for 5 years.