Hope for US-Iran Talks; Egypt in Crisis

Signs of a possible breakthrough in nuclear talks with Iran in Almaty; Egypt’s crisis deepens with reports of torture by the Muslim Brotherhood; Al-Monitor’s Pulse Pages now available in Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish.

al-monitor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, Aug. 30, 2012.  Photo by REUTERS/Hamid Forootan/ISNA.

Topics covered

protests, khamenei, iran, egyptian muslim brotherhood, egypt

Mar 31, 2013

Iran Sends Signal

Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen broke the news last week that Iranian negotiators are considering suspending 20%-enriched uranium for six months and converting their 20% stockpile for medical use.

The apparent seriousness of the technical discussions in Istanbul on March 18 could signal a chance for progress at the nuclear talks to be held between Iran and the P5+1 countries  (the permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, under European Union auspices) April 5-6 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

An Iranian source close to the talks referred Rozen to the March 21 speech by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which the Iranian supreme leader said that the nuclear question could be resolved if the United States “could recognize the Iranian nation’s right to enrichment and in order to address those concerns, they could enforce the regulations of the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA].” Khamenei added that Iran was “never opposed  to the supervision and regulations of the” IAEA.

Khamenei issued a fatwa on Feb. 19, 2012, stating that the “Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons.”

Shahir ShahidSaless wrote for Al-Monitor that Khamenei’s stance in the March 21 speech, if it truly signals a shift and willingness to resolve the nuclear talks, may be the best hope to prevent a conflict.

Al-Monitor Editor and CEO Andrew Parasiliti, in a column for CNN.COM, recommended that the United States should urgently take up Iran’s offer to strengthen joint cooperation on Syria in an effort to end the war there and to complement any progress in the nuclear negotiations.

Egypt’s Crisis

If there were any doubters left that Egypt under the leadership of President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood is going from bad to worse, one should read, or re-read, Al-Monitor last week, beginning with the article by the Egyptian novelist Alaa Al-Aswany in As-Safir, and translated by Al-Monitor.

Al-Aswany writes on revelations of demonstrators being tortured by Brotherhood members, including an account by one that the severity of the torture increased when he was found out to be a Copt, or “Christian Dog” as his interrogator called him, as he intensified the punishment.  

Al-Aswany’s searching piece seeks to understand how “men of God” can turn into torturers, and what this means for Egypt.

In his own superb analysis, Bassem Sabry commented this week that “never since February 2011 have I been more genuinely worried about Egypt than I am right now … the potential for a wider outbreak of politically induced violence has become more alarming than ever before.” The reputation of the Prosecutor General and the police are low, as none of the perpetrators of violence against demonstrators are brought to justice, and demonstrators and activists are being hauled into court on dubious charges including “mentions” on Twitter. The emergence of the Black Bloc, “anyone who dons a black outfit and mask” according to Sabry, signals a worrying trend toward violence as fashion among youth and a trend toward a breakdown in law and order with no faith in official institutions.

In a related exclusive for Al-Monitor, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy reported last week on the trial of the leader of the “Nasr City Cell” of jihadists, which have been linked to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and whose leader, Mohamed Jamal al-Kashef (Abu Ahmed), considers Sinai as the next frontier in the struggle.

The increased lawlessness of the Sinai, its role as a haven for jihadist groups, and its implications for both Egypt and Israel, has been a trend Al-Monitor has covered with first-hand reporting and analysis over the past year. 

Pulses Go Local

We are pleased to announce that Al-Monitor’s Pulses are now available in Arabic (for the Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine Pulses), Hebrew (for the Israel Pulse), and Turkish (for the Turkey Pulse).

Readers who wish to read original Al-Monitor articles which came to us in Arabic, Hebrew or Turkish in those languages can do so by clicking on the respective icon to view the Pulse pages in their original languages.

Al-Monitor’s mission, from the start, has been to provide news and analysis in the voices and languages of the Middle East. We have brought writers and perspectives that would not otherwise be accessible to a Western audience.

Translated articles from our partner papers will continue to be available through links to the original sources.

Al-Monitor, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in February, will be expanding its Pulse coverage in the coming months to further its mission to uncover the trends as we cover the news in the Middle East.

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