Alexander Lobov

Alexander Lobov

A financial journalist based in Hong Kong. Lobov was born in Belarus and raised in Australia, he also freelances and runs a blog - the Zeitgeist Politics - which covers global politics with a focus on the Middle East

What does the future hold for Egypt?

While I do not want to detract from the amazing achievement of the Egyptian people, their future is still uncertain. Who will fill the power vacuum? Omar Suleiman is not a favourite Touted as a replacement by Mubarak and tacitly supported by the US, Omar Suleiman clearly isn’t popular. This is hardly a surprise, given that he was head of Egypt’s intelligence agency (you know, the one that allegedly tortures lots of people) and, according to Wikileaks, told Israel (who love him very much) that he’d like “Gaza to go hungry, but not starve”. Not exactly a hero. Who is Mohamed ElBaradei? ...

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Trouble on the development front

While I’ve always been highly sceptical about sweeping indices that rank states on opaque definitions based on broad categories (my thoughts on the “failed states index” can be found here), I do generally consider UN indices to be a bit more interesting. Don’t ask me why, this isn’t based on any well-researched comparison of the UN versus the think tanks; perhaps I’m just an old-school multilateralist and tend to trust the UN a little more than I should. The UN relies on a number of international agencies for its data, making it incredibly difficult to meaningfully analyse the way ...

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Israel’s weak debate

The ongoing stalemate in Middle East peace talks has led to another op-ed in the New York Times by Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the US. As is often the case with Oren’s op-eds, the piece is full of weak arguments, hyperbole and hypocrisy. The introduction sets the tone for the entire piece: Nearly 63 years after the United Nations recognized the right of the Jewish people to independence in their homeland — and more than 62 years since Israel’s creation — the Palestinians are still denying the Jewish nature of the state. This, like the entire article, tries to oversimplify an incredibly ...

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An American compromise for peace in the Middle East

The sheer amount of media reports about these talks has been deafening. The amount of comment has been an absolute deluge to the point where I have been reluctant to write about it (until now), due to the difficulty of contributing something new to the discussion. However, a new piece of information has come to light that I could prove very important to the future of talks and solutions. These past few days has seen a flurry of reporting, and to-ing and fro-ing, about an article filed by David Makovsky for the Washington Institute of Near-East Affairs: According to senior US ...

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Does Sakineh deserve to die?

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is a young Iranian woman who was sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, a sentence that sparked an international outcry over  a practice that many see as archaic and barbaric. Since the initial sentence the twists and turns in events have moved rapidly. The initial sentence was handed down by a court in Tabriz in May 2006, she was charged with committing adultery (despite the alleged incident occurring after the death of her husband) and was sentenced to 99 lashes, which was carried out. Then, in September she was convicted by another court, the details of ...

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Top secret America – what went wrong?

Yesterday, the Washington Post finally released the first part of what was one of the mostly hotly anticipated newspaper articles in years, a massive investigative report, two years in the making, about what it calls America’s “fourth branch” of government. The report has a dedicated site and will be released in installments, the first part yesterday and the second today, with more to follow. The piece was controversial even before it was released and has been generating a great deal of talk since its first installment hit the press and the internet. If you don’t have time to read the full ...

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Will the Kampala blasts herald a wave of terror in East Africa?

Somali militant group Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for twin blasts in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. 74 people were killed while watching the end of the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands, and dozens were injured. An unexploded suicide vest laden with ball bearings was also found in a disco hall, suggesting that militants planned another attack. Four “foreign” suspects were arrested in connection with the find. No doubt, this is a significant event. It represents the first time that Al Shabaab, a rebel group attempting to gain control of Somalia, has struck outside the country’s borders. However, ...

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How far away is the next Israel-Lebanon war?

This is a question that has been discussed for years, arguably since the last open conflict in 2006 ended in an Israeli withdrawal and an expanded UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) mandate to keep peace in the southern part of the country. That conflict may have ended but its after-effects linger on. Long after the cluster munitions fired from both sides settled into the earth, many of them remain unexploded and continue to kill civilians. Long after the withdrawal, the near-universal consensus that Israel was not the clear ‘winner’ it intended to be and the Winograd Commission’s ...

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Tea and biscuits for the hated

It seems like every day there’s a new steaming pile of nonsense published in the mainstream media about the Muslim world. For a geographically disparate grouping of countries that’s so incredibly important geo-politically it certainly isn’t easy to find informed comment and analysis, certainly not in the papers that constitute regular reading for many people in the West. If people are still beating the ‘clash of civilisations’ drum and decrying that ‘they hate our feedom’ then we know we have a problem. Take National Geographic, a magazine that claims to have been “inspiring people to care about the planet since ...

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What does it mean to be a ‘failed state’?

The term “failed state” has been thrown around with wild abandon for quite a while now and has only grown in popularity and public prominence since Foreign Policy magazine, in partnership with US think tank Fund for Peace, started publishing its annual Failed States Index in 2005. But what does it mean to be a “failed state” and what is the real impact of this index? The ranking is based on the total scores of 12 indicators. For each indicator, ratings are placed on a scale of 0 to 10. The total score is the sum of the indicators and is ...

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