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The Egyptian authorities crack down on culture

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She sings so high that birds explode KHEDIVE ISMAIL looms large in Egyptian history. During his 16-year rule the 19th-century Ottoman pasha modernised the country, laying down railways and irrigation canals that remain in use today. A statue of him towers over a square in Ismailia, the city that bears his name. When the current governor ordered workers to spruce up Ismailia, they naturally repainted the sculpture. But they did so with gaudy coats of black and silver. Even his eyes got an eerie metallic glow. The great pasha now looks like a character from a low-budget cartoon. Egyptians are proud of their rich culture. Statues and reliefs carved in antiquity draw millions of tourists. In the 20th century Egypt produced cultural icons like Naguib Mahfouz, a Nobel-prizewinning author, and...

Eager to please America, the Gulf states want a role in Afghanistan

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NEXT month the American war in Afghanistan will pass a surreal milestone. The army will begin recruiting soldiers who were not yet alive during the attacks of September 11th that led to the invasion. For most Americans, the conflict is all but forgotten. Not so for America’s closest allies in the Middle East, who have suddenly taken a fresh interest in it. The Gulf monarchies are sending more troops and vying for a role in peace talks. But their involvement probably says more about their own internal squabbles than about Afghanistan’s future. Before this summer’s NATO summit in Brussels, both Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offered to send troops to train the Afghan army. The UAE, which already had 200 men in Afghanistan, will increase that by nearly a third. (Qatar’s contribut

A year after big protests, Faure Gnassingbé hangs on in Togo

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TWO weeks ago sword-wielding soldiers flanked the red carpet as the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) filed into a fancy hotel in Lomé, the capital of Togo, for a two-day summit. Gendarmes closed off a chunk of the city. Traders in the market griped about a slowdown in business. The streets fell silent. Last September those same streets were packed with thousands of protesters calling for the president, Faure Gnassingbé, to step down after 13 years in power. (His father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, led Togo for 38 years before that.) The country was in turmoil. Ultimately, the government offered concessions, including a promise to hold a referendum on presidential term limits. Mr Gnassingbé’s departure seemed possible. Yet little has changed. Mr Gnassingbé (pict

Ethiopians are going wild for Abiy Ahmed

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Mr Abiy, parting the waters SEMAHEGN GESHAYE has peddled books near the national theatre in Addis Ababa for eight years. But business has rarely been this brisk. “Anything that’s about Abiy Ahmed is popular,” he says. A flurry of titles about Ethiopia’s new prime minister has hit the shelves since he took office in April. One best-seller, called “Moses”, compares Mr Abiy to the prophet. Another professes to be an insider account of his meteoric rise. The two most popular were written under a pseudonym by the prime minister himself. The last copies of “The Stirrup and the Throne”, his meditation on leadership, sold out in the capital weeks ago. “We badly need that book,” grumbles a bookshop owner. “People are always bothering us for it.” More than 90% of those surveyed by WAAS Internatio

Europe is coddling Arab strongmen to keep out refugees

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Quick, put a strongman in their way MUCH of Syria lies in ruins, but Bashar al-Assad’s bureaucracy of repression hums along. Earlier this year a pro-opposition website published a list of Syrians wanted by the regime. The database is both staggering in scope—1.5m people, or 7% of the pre-war population—and incomplete. Jamil Hassan, the head of the air-force intelligence service, is said to have told senior officers in July that he wants to arrest twice that number. On August 9th another regime official announced that 100,000 Syrians have died of “unknown causes” since 2017. Many were tortured to death in Mr Assad’s dungeons. Yet European politicians are debating whether to send refugees back to this bloody oubliette. Seven years ago, when Arabs revolted against their autocratic rulers,

Fayose: Nigeria must be saved from APC govt’s recklessness, Says: “EFCC, Police, INEC, others now APC tools”

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Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose has Nigerians, especially the youths must rise and save the country from the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of recklessness, saying: ldquo;Events in the last few weeks are pointers to the fact tha ...Powered by WPeMatico