Fire and brimstone: the year in politics for a region in flux, part 1

Published December 23rd, 2012 - 12:33 GMT

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After coming to power via democratic means, President Morsi’s support diminished and his liberal opposition strengthened as he battled the judiciary and pushed for a quick vote on Egypt’s recently passed controversial Constitution.
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Image 1 of 12: After coming to power via democratic means, President Morsi’s support diminished and his liberal opposition strengthened as he battled the judiciary and pushed for a quick vote on Egypt’s recently passed controversial Constitution.

The UN vote, overwhelmingly in favor of making Palestine an “Observer State,” the highest status available without Security Council approval, elevated Palestinian dreams of independence and prompted retaliatory action from Israel.
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Image 1 of 12: The UN vote, overwhelmingly in favor of making Palestine an “Observer State,” the highest status available without Security Council approval, elevated Palestinian dreams of independence and prompted retaliatory action from Israel.

Hamas and Israel both claimed victory in this week long conflict during November. With exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, stepping foot on Palestinian soil for the first time in 37 years, it was both more of the same and a new beginning.
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Image 1 of 12: Hamas and Israel both claimed victory in this week long conflict during November. With exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, stepping foot on Palestinian soil for the first time in 37 years, it was both more of the same and a new beginning.

Jordan: 2012 saw the Kingdom contemplate joining the revolution core before thinking better of it. The largest demonstrations in years witnessed protesters demanding a repeal of fuel price hikes and an end to corruption. A massive turn out, often including the Muslim Brotherhood, expressed opposition to the government in no uncertain terms.
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Image 1 of 12: Jordan: 2012 saw the Kingdom contemplate joining the revolution core before thinking better of it. The largest demonstrations in years witnessed protesters demanding a repeal of fuel price hikes and an end to corruption. A massive turn out, often including the Muslim Brotherhood, expressed opposition to the government in no uncertain terms.

As the rebels gained ground in the Syrian civil war, highly ranking Syrian officials, as well as soldiers of all ranks, joined the opposition in increasing numbers. Prime Minister Riad Hijab and Brigadier General, Manaf Tlass, both made surprise escapes over the border.
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Image 1 of 12: As the rebels gained ground in the Syrian civil war, highly ranking Syrian officials, as well as soldiers of all ranks, joined the opposition in increasing numbers. Prime Minister Riad Hijab and Brigadier General, Manaf Tlass, both made surprise escapes over the border.

Extremist groups from around the region have flooded into Syria, including those with link to al-Qaeda, notably Jabhat al-Nusra, recently designated a terrorist organization by the US. The extent to which these groups will undermine international support for the revolution remains to be seen.
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Image 1 of 12: Extremist groups from around the region have flooded into Syria, including those with link to al-Qaeda, notably Jabhat al-Nusra, recently designated a terrorist organization by the US. The extent to which these groups will undermine international support for the revolution remains to be seen.

With the Syrian civil war dragging on, nearly half a million refugees have now fled into Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, creating huge logistical problems for their host countries and the international community. As winter sets in, the problem of housing and heating only get worse.
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Image 1 of 12: With the Syrian civil war dragging on, nearly half a million refugees have now fled into Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, creating huge logistical problems for their host countries and the international community. As winter sets in, the problem of housing and heating only get worse.

Spillover from the Syrian civil war nudged Lebanon towards a dark place in its own history with kidnapping and bombings, once staples of life in Beirut, again on the upswing. The Lebanese national army and government looked like they were lost for how to contain the chaos.
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Image 1 of 12: Spillover from the Syrian civil war nudged Lebanon towards a dark place in its own history with kidnapping and bombings, once staples of life in Beirut, again on the upswing. The Lebanese national army and government looked like they were lost for how to contain the chaos.

Iraq’s post-occupation security forces have struggled to contain insurgents, criminals and sectarian violence, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki staking much of his reputation on assurances he can keep the peace post-pullout. With the president still in critical condition in hospital, the much promised 'good governance' looks shaky at best.
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Image 1 of 12: Iraq’s post-occupation security forces have struggled to contain insurgents, criminals and sectarian violence, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki staking much of his reputation on assurances he can keep the peace post-pullout. With the president still in critical condition in hospital, the much promised 'good governance' looks shaky at best.

Historically marginalized, Syrian Kurdish leaders have capitalized on the civil war to declare independence, while Iraqi’s Kurdish leaders continue to challenge Baghdad’s authority over the intertwined issues of oil and autonomy.
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Image 1 of 12: Historically marginalized, Syrian Kurdish leaders have capitalized on the civil war to declare independence, while Iraqi’s Kurdish leaders continue to challenge Baghdad’s authority over the intertwined issues of oil and autonomy.

The increased effect of sanctions and failed government policies caused Iran's currency, the Rial, to lose over three quarters of its value, prompting protests, corresponding crackdowns, and a drop in Iran’s financial power in the region.
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Image 1 of 12: The increased effect of sanctions and failed government policies caused Iran's currency, the Rial, to lose over three quarters of its value, prompting protests, corresponding crackdowns, and a drop in Iran’s financial power in the region.

Iran came under increasing fire as leaks about their nuclear program, originating from Israel, and Iran-based cyber attacks on Saudi oil companies, American banks and other targets bolstered international sentiment against Tehran.
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Image 1 of 12: Iran came under increasing fire as leaks about their nuclear program, originating from Israel, and Iran-based cyber attacks on Saudi oil companies, American banks and other targets bolstered international sentiment against Tehran.

At the conclusion of a tumultuous year in Middle Eastern politics, Al Bawaba brings you the leading political stories of the year. From Egypt’s struggle with what it means to be a democracy, and the death throes of the Arab Spring to the increasing regional impact of Syria’s civil war and Palestine’s continued to struggle towards freedom.

These are the stories that shaped the region in 2012.

 

Share your two cents on the year that launched more Arab revolutions and saw others deliberate, hesitate and hold off the fire for now...What Mideast political event stands out for you in 2012?

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