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Just a few excerpts from recent pieces on current hot spots.
“Mohamed Elmenshawy, a senior scholar at the Middle East Institute, sees an intensifying class war developing among Egyptians. The Islamist majority is poorer, more rural and less educated than Morsi’s various adversaries. But they are more united, as his opponents run the gamut from liberal advocates of human rights and democracy to authoritarian hard-liners relegated to the political fringes when Mubarak fell from power.
“ ‘The voices of the non-Islamists are very loud,’ Elmenshawy said of the wealthy industrialists, academics, lawyers, doctors, journalists, artists and activists. ‘They feel they are 80% of society when in fact they are more likely 20%.’
“Unrest will continue to roil Egypt, he said, because ‘politics has become a zero-sum game. The opposition will never accept this constitution and the Islamists won’t accept anything else.’”
“Japan says it legally incorporated the uninhabited Senkaku (Diaoyu in China) Islands into its southern prefecture of Okinawa in 1895, after saying surveys over the previous 10 years showed they were terra mullius – land belonging to nobody. Japanese people lived and worked on the biggest island in the group until late in the second world war. It later came under U.S. occupation along with the rest of Okinawa and was returned to Japanese control in 1971.
“China and Taiwan both argue that historical documents show the islands are actually part of Taiwan (which China claims is also part of its territory). They say Japan illegally seized control of them under cover of the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese war. This makes the islands an emotional symbol of the bullying China suffered at the hands of foreign powers in the 19th and 20th centuries. But one weakness of Beijing and Taipei’s case is that they did not challenge Japan’s sovereignty claim until after UN surveys in the late 1960s suggested the area could be rich in oil.
“China and Japan effectively put the dispute aside when they resumed diplomatic relations in 1972. In order to avoid friction with China, Japan’s central government in 2003 rented three of the islands from their private owner, blocking landings on them by nationalist activists and leaving them undeveloped.
“However, in recent years China has begun to use state vessels to challenge Japan’s effective control of the group…
“This year (2012), the nationalist governor of Tokyo launched an effort to buy the three islands for development. In order to prevent this, Japan’s central government bought them instead. While Japanese officials insist the move is an attempt to maintain the status quo, Beijing has denounced it as an illegal provocation.”
“Growing western influence in the region has only served to make the Chinese even more sensitive. For China to dominate the region, it needs its neighbors to believe that they can no longer rely on America for military support.
“However, the U.S. has begun stationing troops in northern Australia, is supplying arms to the Philippines, has just deployed vertical take-off aircraft to southern Japan and recently established special tripartite military co-operation with Korea and Japan.
“This expanding western presence in the region, and maritime tensions between China and its neighbors, could turn the seas off China into potentially dangerous international flash points.”
Hot Spots will return in a few weeks. It is going to be irregular from here on due to the time taken by the “Nightly Review” videos.