The heart of it

I’m now in Egypt. Fascinating place, naturally enough, and full of contradictions – bloggers are having serious trouble but a rare place where Arabic and Israeli scholars can mix – and already one can sense a country that’s unlike anywhere else in the region.

Egypt likes to see itself as a peace broker between the Israelis and Palestinians, but in reality more power on this issue lies with Saudi Arabia. The irony – that a fundamentalist theocracy is granted wiggle room and aggressive diplomacy by Israel and the US – is not lost on many.

More in the coming while, but it’s only being here that one starts to understand the nuances in regional politics, and the ways in which Islamism is far more shaded than virtually every Western commentator seems to understands. Then again, if you’re gaining your knowledge about the place from White House press releases, “exclusive” briefings from officials and pre-arranged meetings with the usual suspects…

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